Review: Free Throw, ‘Those Days Are Gone’
The story of my first encounter with Free Throw is nearly identical to the story told in my Lobby Boxer review. I was browsing genre tags on bandcamp, and came across the cover art for their self titled EP. I liked it, I clicked on it, and I clicked play. I was already ecstatic at the Pokemon themed song titles, but the Boy Meets World sample was what really set them over the edge. The second “Lv 2 Pidgey In A Masterball” started, it was game over. I was in love, and I knew I had to keep an eye on what these guys were doing. That was late-2012, early 2013. The year is 2014, and Free Throw are now signed to Count Your Lucky Stars. Their sophomore EP ‘Lavender Town’ was re-released earlier this year along with the promise of a full length before the years end.
To call it anticipation would be an understatement; it was more like dire need.The wait was more than worth it. On their debut album, Free Throw are showing us all of the same qualities that made us fall in love with them initially. ‘Those Days Are Gone’ is packed with emotionally drenched songs that have an accessible/fun vibe about them. The belting vocals and singalong ready choruses are a welcomed change of pace for the genre. Even still, you can hear something different in these songs. This is Free Throw at the top of their game. Their game plan is a simple one; slam like the best or jam like the rest.
The record opens up with “Such Luck.” Initially, this song sounds so out of left field for Free Throw. It starts out crawling, but eventually transforms into something bigger than anything they’ve done before. Everything just comes crashing behind those signature gritty vocals, and this brief moment of controlled chaos brings you effortlessly into the next track. “Two Beers In” might as well be called “Two Beers In (The Singalong Song).” This is a song that’s going to creep into every crevice of your brain before it’s even over. You’re going to be singing “Two beers in/Already feels like it’s one of those nights/to forget/the more that I drink the more that I feel broken/and alone” immediately after the first listen. I guarantee it. This is Free Throw, but this is Free Throw on a much larger scale.
“Good Job, Champ” is a song that sounds like it’s right out of another decade. The opening riff is incredible, and the vocal melodies are as playful as ever. The lyrics still manage to be biting, and the shouty “I had to leave/You didn’t love me for me” that makes up the end of the track is phenomenal. It does a great job of keeping up with “Tongue Tied.” This is another one of the singles released to help build hype for the album, and it’s pretty easy to see why. The track has one of the most explosive hooks on the record, and it’s one of the strongest on it. No question. That riff at the end of the track is one of the coolest sounding pieces of music I think I’ve ever heard. It’s incredible to hear just how much these guys have grown.
One of two re-recorded track on the album, “Pallet Town” sounds just as good, if not better than it did before. Originally an acoustic song featured on a split with Grandview, “Pallet Town” was already a song that I saw an incredible amount of potential in. Hearing it come to life as a full band song not only reassured me of that, but it exceeded all possible expectation. The same can be said for “An Hour Pissed.” Free Throw has managed to take one of the riskiest moves a band can make (re-recording old songs), and they’ve made it look like a cakewalk. These guys just don’t stop impressing.
There’s an unspoken rule (or maybe it’s documented somewhere) that every album has to have a ballad of sorts, and ‘Those Days Are Gone’ is no exception. “Kim Tastie” is one of the slowest songs on the record, but it show off the more dynamic side of Free Throw. If nothing else, it shows us that they don’t need to rely on their signature fast paced sing along to write a good song. “How I Got My Shrunken Head” is the best follow up to “Kim Tastie” that could have happened. It starts off a little slower, but in the two minute time slot this song has it transforms into one of the best Free Throw songs to date. I fall more and more in love everytime I hear “It’s not your fault/I’m a mess/A Wreck/I’m broken.” Every single time. “Let’s Get Invisible” is another one of the strongest songs on the album. The chorus is insanely catchy and the musicianship on the track is phenomenal. I’m at the point where I don’t think Free Throw can do any wrong. Every track on this record has been incredible so far.
“What Day Is It, October?” is my favorite song on the whole record. The introduction is incredible, and the belting vocals right out of the gate give this track such a driving energy. It’s incredible to hear. The drum work is incredible, and is the real backbone of the track. If it weren’t for the steady, crashing drumming, I don’t think the song would have felt as powerful as it does. I could listen to this song alone repeat for hours and never grow tired of it. I have listened to this song on repeat for hours without getting tired of it.
‘Those Days Are Gone’ comes to a close with “Hey Ken, Someone Methodically Mushed The Donuts.” Musically, this song feels more relaxed than most of the other tracks on the record. Not quite “Kim Tastie” relaxed, but relaxed. That is until the second half of the song. The drums come to a crash and those vocals kick in with “I never should have said I love you” before becoming uniform in sound. This one song captures the rollercoaster ride that listening to the record truly was. By the time it’s over, you get an honest feeling of closure. More than though, it makes you want to listen to the album again.
Whenever I hear a record I really love, I get butterflies in my stomach. I know that sounds really corny, but it’s the truth. I feel proud to listen to the music I do in those moments; it’s those butterflies that make me want to show these albums off. The entire time I was listening to ‘Those Days Are Gone’, that’s exactly how I felt. Like I could not wait for everybody else to be able to hear what a fantastic record it truly is. Free Throw have exceeded all expectations with this record. I guarantee that they are going to be genre staples long before their career comes to an end. 5/5.