It's a very rock & roll sentiment, to be sure, and that's just what Freeland needs. Two years after moving to Los Angeles and nearly six years since his last album release, the long-time breaks producer and DJ is in the process of rebranding. And that's where Cope™ comes in. A lukewarm album full of dance-rock, it features collaborators that range from savvy (the always competent Alex Metric) to downright bizarre (Devo's Jerry Casale) and, to hear Freeland tell it, it's an opportunity "to do something different, to bring together all my different influences outside my fearful DJ world."
The irony here is that Cope™ sounds less like an artist's second wind than the result of painstaking market research. There is, unquestionably, a market for distorted, punchy dance-rock at the moment, and Freeland and co. aim to invade every corner of it. From using James Murphy-soundalike Kurt Baumann on vocals ("Under Control") and appropriating the synth-roar-instead-of-guitar-riff strategy of Does it Offend You, Yeah?, to revisiting the very-late-'90s sound of bands like Nine Inch Nails ("Strange Things") and Evil Heat-era Primal Scream ("Morning Sun") and smearing its every inch with prickly, biting distortion, Cope™ covers every conceivable niche, from every possible angle.
It's not all bad, if you like those kinds of things (the rest of you have probably run away screaming already), and it certainly could've come out much worse. Unlike Arnaud Rebotini, who nearly destroyed his career with Black Strobe's Burn Your Own Church a few years ago, Freeland shows at least some familiarity with rock's governing dynamics. The drums stomp and strut, the synths pulse and sneer and it all sounds like it'll work well on stage. Freeland's breaks pedigree probably comes into play here, but the music also hews so closely to an established format that it's hard to get too excited about the competence on display.
Cope™'s functional hooks, fashionable production aesthetic and icy professionalism might not be the anti-capitalist red pill Freeland makes it out to be. In fact, with the right licensing deals, it could well make him some serious dough, and that ought to help him cope with the loss of his credibility just fine.