Too Free, 'ATM': Song You Need to Know - Rolling Stone
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Song You Need To Know: Too Free, ‘ATM’

The D.C. trio’s new single pays homage to Nineties house while putting a modern spin on the genre

If you’ve ever lost yourself to a house banger, eyes closed on a sweaty 6 a.m. dance floor, then you know exactly the body feeling that a track like Too Free’s “ATM” elicits. If you haven’t, close your eyes with your headphones turned all the way up: Now you know.

“ATM,” short for “all the moments,” feels nostalgic, particularly in its nod to the history of Nineties house tracks made by black artists from Chicago to Detroit to London. (Aly-Us’s 1992 Jersey house anthem “Follow Me,” or Crystal Waters’s 1991 “Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless),” maybe the most-spun vocal house song ever, come to mind.) It’s also current in its production: The structure of the song builds piece by piece, from the plodding bass sample to the creepy, descending chopped-marimba melody to the bongos and the 808 beat. It’s a hard line to walk, paying homage with a modern spin, but Too Free pulls it off with perfectly restrained swagger.

It’s no surprise that the Washington, D.C. trio’s lead vocalist, Awad Bilal, spent time as a live dancer for Big Freedia; his sultry vocals drip with the same “Fuck with me or don’t” confidence. It also makes sense that Too Free’s programmer/drummer/vocalist Carson Cox used to play in Merchandise, who made music for 4AD, the longstanding UK label that’s always had its finger on the pulse of new waves of art-dance. The confluence of vibes is what makes “ATM” feel just right.

“‘No Fun’ is a series of affirmations that I wanted to speak into existence,” Bilal says in a press statement. “Reclaiming agency over your mind and your body — accepting love and using it to activate others.”

“Baby, catch me in color/Luxury notice/All you could ask for,” he sings on the song. Whether crooned to a partner or a stranger, in the club or during a daily chore, this might seem like a small ask. But acknowledgement is never a given, and the tiniest gesture of opening one’s eyes can mean everything.

Find a playlist of all of our recent Songs You Need to Know selections on Spotify.

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