Friday, 2 January 2009

Friendly Fires

Look, can we have a moratorium on this now. Can we draw a line under the senseless soulless reinvention of music that wasn’t good the first time round for ironic purposes. How clever we are, we’re stood in a club dancing to stuff we innately don’t like just because we’ve been told we should be seen engaging with. I don’t understand Friendly Fires. I don’t understand their ethos and I don’t trust their motives. What are they getting out of this? Yes, this is a well produced album and yes the guy can yelp and yes there’s been resounding critical acclaim, but why don’t I get this? Am I the only one? Or do other people not get it either but know the right adjectives to use to imply they’re behind it. XL is a fucking amazing label and I rarely question their output. They’ve got a roster of some of the most ground-breaking and entertaining artists ever. People like Radiohead, MIA, Dizzee Rascal, The White Stripes all find their place by the XL log-fire. But this, this dirge of house beats and indie yelps without distinguishable feeling or soul is just cold. In a year where TV on the Radio make a soulful experimental rock album that is emotive and interesting simultaneously, I find Friendly Fires passable. The shock, the horror, the backlash, the naysayers, the internet flames calling me a misguided twat. I’ve misjudged things in the past but this... I just don’t like it.

The squelches and yelps, the big 80s choruses and the housey beats that skitter and scatter over thudding one-drop bass drums. It has an audience and it is surprisingly versatile for a dance-rock band but the weird reinvention of bad facades of music strikes deep through this. Where 'Paris' carries a gem of a cowbell it lacks in much depth. There's too much style, too much bravado, too many fronters, too little meticulouslness. Too many bedrooms not enough mics. It's strange hearing an album devoid of much soul because it sounds like a lot of work was put into it. Hmm, I'm sure there'll be disagreement and shrugs but the truth is thus: if you genuinely like 80s choruses and dance/house beats, especially in an indie mash-up stylee, fine... this is for you. If you like it cos everyone else does and you need to be prepared for your next indie disco, you're a fraud and you must learn, as KRS-ONE once said.

Judge for yourself:


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