CD Review : The Famines “Free Love is a Sales Technique”

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Is there a crueler bait-and-switch than “reality”? All it does is savage the hopes and reveries we lay so desperately at its false altar. Indeed, no matter how alluring the idea of “all-you-can-eat buffet” or “punching that person” might seem, their respective realities are always doomed to disappoint.

I was recently enamored with “the idea” of Free Love is a Sales Technique. Even though I hadn’t actually listened to it, I still told anyone with ears that it was “totally my favorite record ever.” I slept with it under my pillow. I played a game of MASH and could hardly contain my elation when I found out I was going to marry it, and live with it in an apartment in Mexico, with our three children. Yes, for a brief burning moment, it seemed like everything was going to turn out beautiful after all . . .

In retrospect, I suppose I built up this two-song EP by Edmonton post-punk duo The Famines into something it wasn’t. But can you blame my heart’s abandon? Free Love is a Sales Technique has that DIY lo-fi vinyl-only intrigue. It comes artfully wrapped in vintage condom advertisements. It is the progeny of two virile young dudes, a proven formula behind previous winners like Japandroids and Wham!. It seemed perfect.’

If I were to review only the idea of this record, I would confidently place just above “anarchy,” and just below “waterslides,” in the pantheon of awesome ideas. Alas, there exists this burdensome expectation that reviewers “actually review” stuff. As such, here is the Judas kiss of reality — This record is pretty boring, and kind of hard to listen to. The brief respite of silence between the two songs is probably the most compelling moment on the thing.

Oh, Free Love is a Sales Technique, that probably hurt me more than it hurt you. We could have been so much more. At least I’ll always have our Mexican apartment, held close in the soft-hue heaven of my mind, forever safe from reality.