Friendly Fires - Pala

A wrong turn...
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This is going to be painful. Friendly Fires had been growing in our hearts, making all the right moves: subtly injecting electronics into their indie, smashing the Clash stage at Lovebox in 2007, releasing a near game-changing album, nailing DJ mixes for Bugged Out!... Everything was in its right place. But ‘Pala’ has taken a wrong turn.

Possibly Ed Macfarlane locking himself up in a French cottage to unleash ‘greater emotions’ meant that there was less perspective, and his sailing vocals have really been caught up with his own bluster. One thing is for certain: they’ve produced a much more pop orientated album. Clash isn’t anti-pop, but we are anticheese.

For example, on second track ‘Blue Cassettes’, perhaps Ed serenades his own tape player: “As I hear your voice / It sets my heart on fire / And I cant stop the wheel from turning” - a chorus so big and daft it sounds more like the soundtrack to a collective wet dream of Colour Me Badd. Eugh. There’s equal levels of mindlessness on tracks ‘Hurting’ and ‘True Love’ (I’ll spare you the lyrics) and the title track, (often where a sonic manifesto can be wrestled from) leaves us at a loss.

A quiet ballad that dwindles on with an ambiguous message. With no track to match their instant party of ‘On Board’ and it being peppered with all the chart angled vocals, we really wonder who will be buying this album - young switched-on music lovers or forty-somethings in marketing with cash to burn? Friendly Fires’ name may actually haunt them on this album; it feels like an own goal… and a case of sonic blue-on-blue.

4/10

Words by MATTHEW BENNETT


Read an interview with Friendly Fires from Clash Magazine HERE.

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