Fred again.. - “Actual Life 3 (January 1 - September 9, 2022)” Album Review
After blowing up in popularity earlier this year, British house artist and DJ, Fred again.. is back with the third release of his “Actual Life” series. At this point in his fairly early career, there seems like nothing that could stop him. From churning out new singles rapidly to collaborating with key industry members, he has grown exponentially as an artist, and in numbers.
After dropping arguably the biggest dance-pop track of the summer, it was clear that Fred again..’s next LP would be a key moment in his career. So how does his unique approach to his recording process play out?
“Actual Life 3” shows that Fred again.. is one of the most imaginative electronic artists out there, but there are too many duds on the record that undermine the brilliance of his work.
Even on the third time around, there are still hints of ingeniousness in how “Actual Life 3” flows. Collecting spoken-word samples from friends, pulling audio clips from live shows, and then flipping them demonstrates Fred again..’s unique ability to create nearly anything he could imagine.
It is almost like the audience is there with him traveling, seeing what he is seeing, and hearing what he is hearing. Listeners hear an audible version of his diary, one that is cohesive, one that almost sounds like a live DJ set despite being recorded months apart.
The record is front-loaded. The first three tracks are all highlights displaying Fred again..’s superb sound design capabilities. “Eyelar (shutters)” layers vocals, an array of synthesizers, drums, and sound effects in a perfect mix that is atmospheric yet upbeat.
“Delilah (pull me out of this),” the best song on the album, is guaranteed to be a festival banger. The drop is thrilling and packed with energy despite the somewhat dark lyrics on the hook.
“Kammy (like i do)” transitions perfectly from the previous song and retains the same energy. The slightly distorted vocals sound fantastic in the way that they blend with the lead synthesizer. The track ends explosively, chopping up and filtering the vocals even more.
Unfortunately, the quality of the record takes a dip after this moment. Several downtempo tracks are introduced, with almost none of them standing out for any positive reason.
One of the biggest issues here, contrary to the beginning of the record, is that the vocals are miserable. Tracks like “Bleu (better with time)” would have been at least possible if the hook wasn’t so irritating. The processing sounds decades outdated here.
Fred again..’s lyrical style also comes back to bite him sometimes. Tracks like “Nathan (still breathing)” have incredible buildups in instrumentation but lack total substance making the track feel like a whole lot of nothing.
It gets even worse on “Mustafa (time to move you)” where the production is weak too. It is mind-boggling why this track was even included in the first place.
However, there are some gems in the latter half of the record. “Danielle (smile on my face),” and “Clara (the night is dark)” would fit just perfectly in a “Boiler Room” video.
“Actual Life 3” is a mixed bag with some of the best moments of Fred again..’s, and arguably some of his worst. The highlights allow the record to stand out greater than his previous two entries and help prove that he is legitimate.
The production for the most part is on point, however, he might have to be more selective on his guest features next time. Needless to say, as soon as he irons out some kinks, Fred again.. could be even bigger than he is now.
Reviewers' Favorite Tracks: “Delilah (pull me out of this),” “Danielle (smile on my face),” “Eyelar (shutters)”
Reviewers' Least Favorite Track: “Mustafa (time to move you)“
Caelan Chevrier is a third-year majoring in marketing. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Third Year / Marketing & Journalism