‘Actual Life (April 14 – December 17 2020)’ — Fred again.. — Album review

We’re supposed to spend our formative years on dancefloors, moving to rhythms of tracks we connect with in the moment. It’s virtually a rite of passage upon legal drinking age (or thereabouts…) to hit the clubs and make them our homes post-midnight on nights out. It’s just the way it is, and the debut album, ‘Actual Life (April 14 – December 17 2020)’, from Fred again.. captures exactly that. 

This electro-pop album is just what we should all be prescribed while we’re yearning for the sticky staircases that trail into our favourite clubs. The interim period we’re presently in might allow us to sip pints in beer gardens, though we’re still months away from the dancefloors being open. So near, yet so far. And that’s why having this new record from Fred again.. to spin is such a tonic. 

Feelings of being frayed from society since the pandemic struck are covered. We’ve been forced to become disenfranchised from our favourite places — namely Distrikt for me, if we’re talking clubs promising top-tier DJ sets — and settle for the sofa instead. We all empathise and sympathise with people’s situations and the devastation the virus has caused, but that doesn’t mean we can’t confess it’s been pretty rubbish without our usual weekend outlets. So, I’m chuffed we’ve now got this groovy, house-infused time capsule of electronic material to get us through the next stint…

The album opens with garbled thoughts on ‘April 14th 2020’, which is a well-curated juxtaposition to the contrasting ‘December 17th 2020’, the track that draws everything to a neat close while registering that it “feels like it might be over soon”. If only…

Before the record completely ends, though, you get the uptempo but reflective ‘Marea (We’ve Lost Dancing)’. The title alone says a lot. In fact, when we’re reminded of all the things we’ve had to give up since the first lockdown, the memories of the last time we properly danced come flooding back. You somehow feel you’re experiencing that all again when you spin this album — the same vibe I get from Bicep’s ‘Isles’. It also makes me regret being a bit late to Flume’s massive Warehouse Project show, as Fred again.. was on as early support. 

In any case, the energy of some of these tracks is just spellbinding. The melodic keys go a tropical house level on ‘Dermot (See Yourself In My Eyes)’, while the hip-hop beats of ‘Yasminah (See Your Face Again)’ are sheer funk goodness. It’s soft and kind of wistful, but I can feel myself being lifted off my seat while I’m typing. 

But they aren’t the only belters — I get severe night out pangs on ‘Julia (Deep Diving)’, ‘Marnie (Wish I Had U)’ and ‘Sabrina (I Am A Party)’. There are some trippy synths on this record and it’s a joy to find them. And although there are various interludes interwoven, this isn’t a debut that tails off — the hypnotic softness complements the pulsing electronics on ‘Angie (I’ve Been Lost)’, another ripper. 

So, here I am, bopping along to Fred again..’s delicious tunes on a Sunday afternoon, pretending it’s 01:13 and I’m swilling a neat whisky around a tumbler on the dancefloor. Surely that means the uber-producer’s done his job here?

If you only download one track, let it be: ‘Dermot (See Yourself In My Eyes)’

Original image credit: Fred again..

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