Toronto Electro-pop duo Freedom Or Death, Steve Fernandez and Sway Clarke, first turned heads with the release of their self-titled EP 2010, courting pop melodies and showing few signs of just getting started. Predictably and thankfully they have returned to release their second EP in as many years. Ego, its cover adorned with echoes of Degas’ dancers, is just as refined and, at times as elegant as the art that accompanies it. “Gespraech” rings with genuine charm and truth as acoustic beginnings give way digital meanderings. Sway swells easily through his upper range and into falsetto.
Transition between acoustic and earthy elements of guitars and xylophones to glitching drum tracks and warm keys and back again, is quickly becoming the band’s calling card. Fernandez and Sway make easy what others struggle to accomplish, pulling together disparate influences. Ego sounds as if Depeche Mode had been shot back in time and nurtured by The Village while keeping their gaze firmly fixed upon all music the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s would bring. While the EP confidently boasts 7 strong tracks you will find none better than “Virginia Wolf” and its polite golf claps and subtle orchestration, or “This Crowded Room” with pulsating synthesizer and warm harmonies which make it impossible not to like.
You will have to make a decision with this EP as with their last, whether the soft purrs and velvety production endear you to Freedom Or Death or push you away. One thing is for sure, Sway and Fernandez have mastered a delicate balance early; you can see a clear path to a successful full length for these two.
-Myles LaCavera, lithiummagazine.com