Close to three excruciatingly painful years have passed since UK band Friendly Fires first gave us the gift of their self-titled full length. 2011 brings them back, my friends, so get ready to dance your face off to some more brilliant music. The eleven-track release (out later this month) is the synthesis of melded indie/80s-pop/electronic perfection -- exactly what we'd expect from this epic group.
The group's self-titled 2008 release quickly made waves throughout the music community. Catchy lyrics and flawlessly fused indie electronic tracks made it easy for music lovers from all spectrums to giddily embrace the band. This was only reinforced by their emotive, high-intensity live performances. Since their initial full-length release, Friendly Fires has been relatively quiet with some quiet splashes this last fall with a Depeche Mode cover and collaboration with Azari & III.
Named after a utopian island in the 1962 novel Island by Aldous Huxley, Pala picks up right where Friendly Fires left off -- nonchalantly real and incredibly catchy. Although the release is a mere eleven tracks long, each song offers a different audible encounter. "Live Those Days Tonight" hurdles listeners into the album with energetic lyrics speaking to a darker message. The song chronicles a man rejecting the notion that, although some challenge his generational ability to really live life, he will live his days just as those before him -- "Won't feel the times you've had / I can't touch your precious past / but I'll live / I'll live those days tonight." A refreshing summer breeze of an interlude starts off the track, reminiscent of "Jump In The Pool" from their prior release. Listening, it's impossible to tell if they modeled the lyrics after the instrumentals or the converse; they exist as carbon copies of each other in different media, both expressing the same feeling/message of determined youthful ecstasy.
The album moves into tracks discussing elusive lust, love, and life. "True Love" jumps off with twangy guitar and rocks steadily through three-ish minutes of fast-paced riffs and lyrics crying out with incessant desire to find (spoiler alert) true love. "Running Away" ecstatically punches out with strongly flavored beats and floating vocals, peppered with scatting to break up the vocals towards the end.
Not to be outshone, title track "Pala" rears its head at the midpoint of the album as the definite slow jam of the bunch. Frontman Ed Macfarlane's vocal chords effuse depressed tones, delicately simmered over methodically slow instrumental harmonies.
Pala shows us that not only is FF here to stay, they have matured. Obvious self-reflection and life experience has brought a more suave, refined air to their music, like your insanely cool older brother. The admirably inherent quality of Friendly Fires is their ability to meld influences from so many different decades and genres, make it their own, and do it on a complicated, deep, multi-faceted level. No doubt you should see their live show (it's stellar!), for they coincidentally happen to be touring at the moment.