Friendly Fires are back! After a 7 year break due to the lead singer’s poor health they surprised everyone last year with a new single and a few comeback shows. I was lucky enough to be at the Brixton show and while there were some signs of being out of practice, for the most part it was as if they were never gone.
That reemergence has now matured a year later into a brand new full length album and their brand of tropical indie pop is on form yet again. It is clear that overall a more electronic / disco / clubbing vibe has infused their music replacing what guitars used to be there with more synths but the foundations remain solid.
The opening trio of tracks is a slap round the face with a knowing “you’d forgotten about us hadn’t you? It’s OK, we’re back, darling!”. It is fabulously camp at times (in particular on Silhouettes), but without losing any indie credibility at all – a clever balancing act. For old fans the opener Can’t Wait Forever is reminiscent of the first, self-titled, album while the second throws back to Pala, What results is a series of tracks that introduced their new club music interests by collaboration with Friend Within on Offline and the all out party continues through to lead single Love Like Waves after which it descends into a slightly dirtier, darker sound more directly aimed at a clubbing vibe but without losing that upbeat, tropical signature that defines them.
Is it as strong as their debut one two? No, probably not overall, but it stacks up against them very well and having been out of the game for so long and clearly gained some other interests, it is a brilliant return from one of the most under-rated bands – especially live (check out the Pala Glasto show).
I look forward to seeing them, and Ed’s hypnotic and wild hips, in a festival field next year. Seriously, their music is excellent but McFarlene sure can dance!
Highlights: Love Like Waves, Heaven Let Me In, Can’t Wait Forever, Offline
(Originally published on Instagram – 19 August 2019)