Nearly three years after releasing their critically acclaimed debut album "Stuck on Nothing," indie rock group Free Energy will release sophomore LP "Love Sign" on Tuesday (Jan. 15) with a different game plan. Gone are the last record's DFA Records affiliation and all-star producer, LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy, after a split from the imprint in early 2011, but frontman Paul Sprangers says that taking a bold new strategy -- specifically, self-releasing on the newly created Free Energy Records -- was a priority for the group.
"This was the most exciting path for us," says Sprangers, a Minnesota native who comprises Free Energy with Scott Wells, Evan Wells, Sheridan Fox and Nicholas Shuminsky. "DFA was honestly a literal dream come true. And then beyond that, being able to record with James -- you can't really top that… Once you have this dream, it's hard to get totally excited about being on another label. And this seemed more risky, like we were trying to feel our way into the unknown and find a model that works."
Sprangers says that "Love Sign" was written after Free Energy wrapped up their extensive tour in early 2011, and following a trial run with veteran producer Jeff Glixman, the group brought in John Agnello, who's helmed projects by Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr. and Kurt Vile, among others. Fittingly, "Love Sign" is more muscular than "Stuck on Nothing," with tracks like "Girls Want Rock" and "Hey Tonight" charging ahead with a cavalcade of guitars supporting the group's pop sensibility.
"John never hesitated at an idea," says Sprangers of the rock producer. "He helps facilitate our vision. And James [Murphy] did the same thing, but the difference is that this time we had more of a clear understanding of what we wanted to do. A lot of the philosophy we learned from James… we were able to implement more here."
The official video for "Electric Fever" was released last year, while "Girls Want Rock" was released as the second official single earlier this month. And after supporting artists like Weezer and Mates of State on the road in the past, Free Energy will kick off a short U.S. tour in Cleveland on Thursday (Jan. 17). "We're gonna tour our asses off when it comes out," says Sprangers of the album, "and just work on finding places in culture where our music fits."