At this moment in time, it's uncommon to hear rhetoric about London that isn't tinged with cynicism. A city that at one point every man and his ironically-named French bulldog wanted to live in. The soaring prices, the craft ales in boutique boozers and the bowls of stale Golden Graham's that will set you back a fiver have left an expired milk taste in the mouths of many of its residents. Unless you're part of the Chelsea elite, that is, in which case haven't you got a slimming tea to plug on Instagram, or something?
'Real Life', the debut album from North London three-piece Real Lies, evokes feelings about the city that by some, have long since been buried. For today's generation who are part of "the decade with no name", as the band refer to it, this album urges a wry-smile and a knowing look that says, been there.
We're reminded of the nights that will go down in history. The ones we'd rather forget, the ones we can't actually remember and the horror show that follows in a way that's utterly sentimental and subtly romantic. "You are the straight-through crew, not the time out crowd / I love my friends more dearly than I'm allowed to say aloud" asserts opener 'Black Market Blues'; the line holds it own throughout, despite the band revealing it was the last track to be written. From the dub-tinged 'Dab Housing' to the euphoric 'Seven Sisters' via the poetic artistry of 'North Circular', 'Real Life' manifests itself in total relatability.
A little while back the band tweeted: "There's gotta be something better to call RL than electropop?", and with lines like "I'm not nailing myself to the cross, but what beautiful proof of God she was" ('Naked Ambition'), and the sweeping prose in the concluding song 'Sidetripping', it's hard not to see their point. That isn't to say that 'Real Life' is held together by lyrics alone; '90s house-centric 'Word Peace' and out-and-out banger 'Gospel', for instance, are vibes in every sense of the word.
Lyrically fascinating, charmingly vulnerable and compulsively danceable - this is how to do a debut. It's an album that you're going to listen to in someone's kitchen when you're feeling invincible on a Friday and the one you'll cry to on the tube on Monday, contemplating the meaning of life. It's also one of the most important albums of 2015 so far.
Words: Maya Rose Radcliffe
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