Peter Hook of Joy Division and New Order! Andy Rourke of the Smiths! Mani of the Stone Roses! Ever since the project participants first teased it in the press a few years back, Freebass has both held promise, based on the individuals involved, and evoked a sense of impending dread due to the Spinal Tap-esque ludicrousness inherent in crafting a band around the bassists from three of Manchester, England’s most important rock bands. After years of off-and-on work, Freebass is finally ready to be unleashed upon the world, with You Don’t Know This About Me being half of a pair of EPs preceding the debut of the band’s full-length, It’s a Beautiful Life.
Typical of supergroup endeavors, You Don’t Know This About Me is a real letdown, neither drawing from the defining strengths of the artists’ home turf nor offering anything satisfactory to counter that deficiency. What’s truly disappointing is how much of a letdown it is. Featuring Tim Burgess of the Charlatans on vocals, the EP exclusively consists of five remixes of the title track by revered producer Arthur Baker, about three more than anyone actually needs (though the a cappella remix has its odd charms, thanks to Mr. Burgess). Such redundancy could be acceptable if “You Don’t Know This About Me” was a cracking track in the first place. Instead, it’s middling and blandly dull dance-rock, stifled by an airy facelessness that makes it impossible for the song to stick in the head. With the tune’s high-pitched bass melodies and overall somber ambiance, it’s clear that Hook is the dominant partner in the project, meaning that on the more lackluster rock-oriented remixes Freebass sounds like forgettable, third-rate, modern rock radio copycats from the ‘80s. It’s all terribly disappointing. Time after time, the members of Freebass have made big noises about what to expect, but after examination of this EP, the wait for more material isn’t exactly killing me.