Monday, September 01, 2008

Friendly Fires

Since this blog is all about music that I like, I'm not much given to negative reviewing, but you might find the occasional jibe. If you have a cursory scroll down the blog, these jibes may sound a little like ...bah spiky guitars... bah skinny jeans... bah synth rock electropop... bah trendy scenesters/ no substance and so on. You get the message. All of this is very well, and generally this sort of attitude should be employed against many of the bands who inhabit Camden and Shoreditch, but sometimes it can get in the way of a good thing.

I had already dismissed Friendly Fires by the time I gave their debut album a half-hearted listen a few weeks back, but this was unwise. It was only on giving it a proper hearing at the end of last week that I perked up. Here is a band that doesn't just casually namecheck Talking Heads, but actually takes the best bits of David Byrne and co. and gives them a full 2008 makeover. Friendly Fires also take more than a few leaves from the books of James Murphy and even funk and end up crafting a hugely accomplished debut. This is proper punk-funk, whatever else that means. For a former hardcore outfit, this young Hertfordshire band know how to take indie rock and make it bang for the club. It's even more impressive to find out that they've produced the whole thing themselves - except lead track Jump in the Pool for which they enlisted uber-hot producer Paul Epworth, but amusingly that song is nowhere near the best on the album.

These are tunes that are equally happy coming out of your home hi-fi on a sunny afternoon as they are coming out of huge bassbins in some darkened, sweaty room. Although this isn't the sort of thing that I normally listen to, I can't really find anything wrong with this album - maybe the need for them to rein in their epic indie tendencies, but that's a small quibble - and it's all highly recommended. And I'm sure that they've even better live. So lesson learned - there may well be less sniping from me in future.

mp3: Friendly Fires - In the Hospital
mp3: Friendly Fires - White Diamonds

Friendly Fires is out today on XL. Buy from Rough Trade. Download other Friendly Fires tracks from emusic.


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