Free Energy, "Stuck on Nothing"

3.5

With its first full-length, "Stuck on Nothing," Philadelphia-based old-school rock act Free Energy already represents a change of pace. From the opening guitar riff and cowbell clang on the first track, "Free Energy," it's clear that the set is a new direction for the electronica-leaning DFA label and producer James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem. The band's no-frills rock sound may not match up with its pedigree, but "Stuck on Nothing" is front-to-back dizzying fun nonetheless. Sun-kissed jam "All I Know" chugs along before reaching a singalong chorus, while "Dream City" finds singer Paul Spranger snarling over a kick-drum beat and hand claps. The act keeps its songwriting simple, but every song pops out of the speakers thanks to Murphy's production and some technically crisp guitar work. The band is still finding its footing lyrically, and some tracks build to a climax that never arrives. "Stuck on Nothing" works well as a no-nonsense party album, but Free Energy shows tremendous promise on this debut.