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Song Premiere: Freelance Whales, 'Spitting Image'

Freelance Whales
Courtesy of the artist
Freelance Whales

It's been a couple of years since we first discovered and fell in love with the music of Freelance Whales. That was back in 2010, shortly after the group of multi-instrumentalists from Queens, N.Y. released its breathtakingly beautiful debut Weathervanes.

Now the band is back with a whole new batch of songs they're calling Diluvia. The sophomore full length won't be out until Oct. 9, on Mom + Pop/Frenchkiss Records, but the group is giving fans an early taste with its new single, "Spitting Image."

While frontman Judah Dadone normally sings lead for Freelance Whales, bassist Doris Cellar assumes the role for this cut, with a voice and intonation that reminds me of Dolores O'Riordan of The Cranberries.

The band has always had an enormous, euphoric sound. But in an email, Dadone told us that "Spitting Image" was an even bigger evolution in the group's music.

"It might sound poppier in a way, but also brasher and more reckless than anything we've done before. There's a lot of clanging, fingers squeaking on bass strings and other sounds that happen naturally when a band plays together. The expansiveness of the track (compared with an almost claustrophobically tight sound on Weathervanes) is something that we wanted to suggest that we're moving outward, from small confined spaces further into the stratosphere. And certainly the rest of the record also feels shot out into a larger space. Above all of that, though, I think this song is mostly just the expression of our desire to do something more steady and rollicking."

Dadone says the song is, at least in part, about the human body being controlled by something "like aliens or the movements of distant stars."

I didn't immediately catch the references, but damn is it good.

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Robin Hilton
Robin Hilton is the Senior Podcast Producer for NPR Music and hosts the New Music Friday episodes of All Songs Considered. He is also a composer and multi-instrumentalist whose original scores have appeared in podcasts, films, radio programs and other works. He arranged and performed the theme for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered and composed and performed its elections coverage theme. You can hear more of his music here.