Got any free time to listen to music about failed romance. Thought so.
Underwater Peoples, 2013
7.4 / 10
Melbourne musician Dion Nania heads up the project Free Time, supported by buddies of Adrienne Humblet on bass, Jonah Maurer on guitar, and Michael Mimoun on drums. They probably don’t just support him musically either. Free Time’s eponymous debut album is constructed from deeply personal and heartbreaking lyrics. If it wasn’t for the band’s other members, Free Time wouldn’t be a mellow jangly guitar rock album (akin to Real Estate) but probably a somber acoustic guitar affair in the same manner of Christopher Owens. The laid-back arrangements never hint at the sadness behind Nania’s songwriting, and if not for his ear-catching vocals, the sentiment could go missed.
While not a particularly stunning singer, Nania’s lazy drawl does draw attention to what he’s saying from the minor changes in his speed and delivery. Half clear and half mumbled, Nania’s words aren’t always decipherable, but there are some excellent lines thrown about that signal to his potential. “It Doesn’t Stop” features one of Nania’s juiciest moments: “All the baggage you got/ It just wants to talk/ And then you let your guard down/ Well, it comes out for a walk/ Then your bullshit is out/ For everyone to see/ Then you come off like a joke/ But that’s just how it seems”. Nania is pretty quick on the draw, almost sounding like he’s ranting rather than singing.
However, Nania isn’t constantly a Debbie Downer on Free Time. Forgoing their chill style, the band puts their music on a treadmill for “Just One”. While it’s far from what I’d call a frantic pace, the song moves faster than everything heard before it. Nania sings about having kids, “Do I have to have just one baby/ What if one isn’t enough”,so he’s not throwing in the towel just yet on love, but he may be moving a little too fast. Already, we’re talking about kids? Take it slow, Dion!
At just nine songs, Free Time feels a little short, but it could also have an opposite effect for listeners not buying into Nania as much as I did. There’s not much variation in the album’s arrangements, which could be a little repetitive for some. This makes it easy to spot the standouts like “Just One” and album closer “Nothin But Nice”. Those songs alone could lead others to believe that Free Time’s debut is a different album than it actually is. However, its overly repetitive mellow-jangle shouldn’t keep you from checking it out or Nania’s excellent songwriting.
Purchase: Free Time – Free Time