‘Wild, Free’ album review

Image courtesy of Tooth & Nail Records

album: Wild, Free
artist: Acceptance
genre: pop rock
release date: October 2, 2020
star rating: four out of five

review by Logan Rine

Summer of 2005, the Seattle-based, five-piece rock outfit Acceptance released their full-length album Phantoms, and it was more than memorable for me. The opening track “Take Cover” held the sound and feel of everything I was so into back in those days. That upbeat tempo and high energy floored me the first time I listened to it with friends in my high school days. I was sure that this group was bound for something big in the near future, but sadly Acceptance broke up only a couple years after that album dropped. Different members of the band continued on in the industry, joining and starting different projects that many of us came up listening to and fanning over.

Fast-forward to 2016, the band reconnected and began playing live shows together again. Since then, Acceptance has recorded and released an EP and two LPs, the latest of which, the album Wild, Free, just dropped this fall. Tooth & Nail Records released the band’s 2020 album on Friday, October 2, showing a lineup of all the original members: Jason Vena (vocals), Kaylan Cloyd (guitar), Garrett Lunceford (drums/ keyboards), Christian McAlhaney (guitar), and Ryan Zwiefelhofer (bass).

The opening track of Wild, Free, “Midnight,” comes right out of the gate with the driving energy and sonic-scape that I’ve known the band to comprise since that very first listening experience I had with them 15 years back. Even though this record holds such familiarity to the band’s first works sonically, this Acceptance is definitely a new and fresh experience. Some of that familiar soundscape must be attributed to the touch of the great producer Aaron Sprinkle, who has been at the helm of the creation of various great albums, many of which released by Tooth & Nail since the early 2000s. This album is filled with all kinds of synth-driven pop jams that supply the bed for what is unmistakably Acceptance. The track “Dark Age” has to be my favorite on the album. The 80s-inspired, syncopated subsynth line plays perfectly under a melody you’ll find yourself humming days later.

From top to bottom, this album is an absolute joy of a listening experience. The dynamic of Wild, Free is the same of that which wowed me in 2005’s Phantoms. Clever and deep songwriting make up such upbeat movements that turn these cooler fall days into a Pacific Northwest Summer. Overall, I highly recommend giving yourself the time to sit down with this album and let it push you along as it creates the warm space and high energy to carry you into 2021. Acceptance is still creating tracks that any early fans of theirs will come to know and enjoy, while bringing so many fresh touches through the highest-end production. This band knows how to create timeless records, and this album is no different. I give Wild, Free four out of five stars. Go forth and listen.

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