Friendly Fires Friendly FiresPala
Friendly Fires appeared in 2008 as the partying cousins of Foals. Their debut album, “Friendly Fires” (XL, 2008), turned them into one of the main pillars of the crossover between indie and electrónica from the UK (albeit two steps down from the gigantic Hot Chip). The record wasn’t only brilliant, it earned a nomination for a Mercury Prize, too, though that year it would be Speech Debelle who would take the trophy home. They squeezed that first album dry (seven singles taken from a ten-track album, but among them was the excellent remix Aeroplane made of “Paris”). Before releasing this new effort, “Pala”, Gucci called them to do a cover of Depeche Mode’s “Strangelove” for a perfume ad campaign. Judging from this second album, the order hasn’t gone to their heads.
All of that celebratory spirit, the never-ending summer party mood, is translated into “Live Those Days Tonight”. It’s the opening, first advance and best track of this collection of eleven save “Hurting”, which is one of their most serious songs. They don’t only allow themselves the luxury of looking at the present with obvious winks to the chill-wave of bands like Washed Out in a genre where it’s more usual to look at the eighties, they even team up with a Harlem gospel choir and add a 303 at the end to make the song shine even more. Surefire hit. From one New York area to another, they move to Brooklyn for “True Love”, where they play funky disco with a prominent bassline. It’s no coincidence, then, that Holy Ghost!’s Alex Frankel, a usual suspect on the scene, collaborates here.
This is a new album featuring the best dance music has given us in the past thirty years – “Blue Cassette” takes some late-nineties French touch in the spirit of Thomas Bangalter– and, at the same time, shows that Friendly Fires have matured, with a more serious sound than on their first LP –take “Running Away” as an example. “Chimes” is also great, with those, err, chimes. It’s a pity that “Hawaiian Air”, possibly the next single, due to it sounding like the sequel to “Paris”, isn’t as good as the rest. And it is precisely the track on which producer Paul Epsworth’s (Bloc Party, The Rapture) footprint is the deepest.
Friendly Fires close the album with “Helpless”, reminiscent of the Junior Boys of “So This Is Goodbye”. A sensual rhythm, a bit slower than usual (without becoming mid-tempo like the insignificant “Pala”), with an air of summery house, ideal to play at the off-Sónar events just before the sun sets. Its last 30 seconds sound like one of those marvellous Boards Of Canada interludes. In conclusion, we have here a second album that will satisfy the fans, which seems more elaborated, solid and broader minded, but with one flaw: it doesn’t feature any undisputable hits, like there were so many of on their debut album.
Álvaro García Montoliu
Friendly Fires - Live Those Days Tonight