Anderson .Paak’s live band Free Nationals deliver a funk-filled self-titled debut
11.12.2019

Anderson .Paak’s live band Free Nationals deliver a funk-filled self-titled debut

Words by Jonathan Reynoso

The record everyone has been waiting for.

The Free Nationals are Anderson .Paak’s live band. Their sets are usually tight and precise, but always leave room for colourful solos. If you like to drink from the chalice of ‘70s and ‘80s funk, look no further.

Intro track, ‘Obituaries’, welcomes us to the band’s neon-lit world before ‘Beauty & Essex’ really kicks things off. Daniel Caesar and Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s Ruban Nielson trade-off sexually flirtatious lyrics. On ‘Shibuya’, Syd of The Internet implores you to stay the night, even offering to make food in the morning. In fact, the whole album reads like a mid-‘70s Marvin Gaye record determined to have your clothes off by the final track.

The sound is really what stands out. Rubbery bass lines and plush drums lay the foundation for Ron “Tnava” Avant’s soulful keys and vocoder vocals. The band dives into funk, soul, reggae, and hip hop. The guests – and there’s a new one for every track – never feel awkward or out of place. The album includes the first officially released song following the death of Mac Miller on ‘Time’.

The lyrics take a back seat with some generic lines here and there, and the band could’ve taken more liberties to highlight their technical versatility. Still, it’s a sleek and endlessly groovy set of tracks.

8.5