Vibrant and vivacious. The quintessential sound of the summer has arrived in the form of Friendly Fires‘ second studio album Pala. 48 Minutes and 52 seconds of pure energy, this new offering from the St Albans lads is definitely one not to miss.
The boys are battling hard to prevent the notorious ‘sophomore slump’ from the very beginning of the album, as they mix a perfect blend of the fast paced and the serene. The Friendly Fires’ self-titled debut emanated a certain emotional longing through their lyrics, despite the upbeat nature of the tracks. There is a definite continuation of that theme on Pala, with a deeper exploration into the journey of love shown in particular on tracks Hurting and True Love. You can just envision lead singer Ed Macfarlane up on stage singing straight from the heart, and dancing the only way he knows how.
The genre-crossing nature of the Friendly Fires is served in abundance on Pala until you canâ€™t savour another mouthful. This is most palpable on Live Those Days Tonight and Hawaiian Air, which both bask and rejoice in the delight of being young, passionate and alive. Named after Aldous Huxleyâ€™s fictitious utopian land, Friendly Fires have reflected the feelings of escapism admirably and one canâ€™t but help envision them sitting on a beach of a tropical land, embracing the sun and the sounds.
However, the album is not without fault and it is by no means a pristinely perfect package. Despite a noticeable increase in dance and house influences on the album, it seems to lack a defining track like Skeleton Boy was on their first effort. The album tends to drift by towards the end, positively or negatively that is up to you decide, but there is certainly a case to be made that the vitality of the first half of the album lags somewhat in the second half, almost as if the boys ran out steam.
Pala is undeniably a great advert for the indie-pop genre and the album goes to great lengths to demonstrate the originality and unpredictable nature of their sound. Some bands don’t have the credibility to even attempt such a feat, but the Friendly Fires certainly have the creativity and talent to pull it off. Pala may be a little over-sentimental in places, but boy is nice to hear and a young band enjoying themselves and their music.
Stand Out Track: Blue Cassette