Brooklyn's Freelance Whales surface with a rich sophomore set ripe for more synchs.
In Latin, "diluvian" refers to material or sentiment left behind after a flood. But in the case of Brooklyn indie-pop outfit Freelance Whales, it can also mean a flood of data or information, of which the band has had no shortage in the three years since its self-released debut, "Weathervanes".
After making a splash at the 2009 CMJ Music Marathon, the band sparked an indie-label bidding war that resulted in a unique partnership between Frenchkiss and Mom + Pop to rerelease "Weathervanes". A successful two-year touring cycle that included opening for the likes of Fanfarlo, Cymbals Eat Guitars, Shout Out Louds and Tokyo Police Club followed, as did a litany of high-profile synchs, including a Twitter promotion that logged more than 1 million YouTube views, commercials for Starbucks and Chevy Volt, and multiple appearances on TV shows including HBO's "Bored to Death" and the CW's "One Tree Hill."
Not that the band had that information flood in mind when naming its sophomore set Diluvia, which arrives Oct. 9 on Frenchkiss/Mom + Pop. "We're really focused on just the way a word feels or sounds and certainly looks written down," frontman Judah Dadone says. "The letters and sounds can resonate even without any meaning, and 'diluvia' was one of those words that felt nice to say and looked nice."
"It's also got more of an ancient feel to it," adds Chuck Criss, a multi-instrumentalist who plays banjo, glockenspiel, synthesizer, acoustic and electric guitar and sings backup vocals. "It's an old Latin word that was in contrast to the kind of newer elements we created musically. We liked the contrast."
"Diluvia" is indeed a richer, more modern-sounding record than the sparse, synth-y chamber-pop that made "Weathervanes" a cult fave. Tracks like "Dig Into Waves" and lead single "Locked Out" feature some of the group's most expansive, percussive arrangements to date, with sweeping melodies and dramatic choruses that showcase the band's appeal to not only music supervisors but also the two labels that struck a first-of-its-kind partnership just to distribute and market the band's music.
The division of labor between the two largely sees Mom + Pop leading radio promotion, Frenchkiss spearheading product management and the two sharing duties on marketing and press. "We had two record labels that really liked each other and we had a band that we both liked," Mom + Pop director of digital marketing Robbie Mackey says. "The more brands in one room to figure out how we're going to set the album up to work to promote it, the better. We're all friends anyway."
All the excitement for "Diluvia" should translate to the band's largest headlining tour (and first since 2010), which began Oct. 4 at Chicago's Lincoln Hall and wraps Nov. 3 at Boston's Paradise. It's quite the feat for an act that gave new meaning to the term "underground following" around the release of its first record, playing subway platforms in between proper gigs to build buzz. "There are bands who play on the subway and bands that play on stages, but no one was doing both," Dadone says. "It was really effective. You didn't have to say a single word to anyone, and the number of people that would latch on over the course of five hours is sometimes enough to fill a room."
Freelance Whales keep finding ways to reward fans heading into "Diluvia" including hosting an Instagram photo contest where the winners will receive free tickets to the band's shows in their hometown for life. "Freelance Whales have a pretty decent-sized audience that has emerged out of different worlds, through their Twitter commercial or the Starbucks ad or the Daily Candy newsletter," Mackey says, "and one of the big things we wanted to do with this record was give all those fans a forum to see the band together."