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Friendly Fires / November 2011 UK Tour

 
By on Tuesday, 24th May 2011 at 3:30 pm
 

Hot on the heels of the release of their second album ‘Pala’ (review here), the band on everyone’s lips, Friendly Fires, have announced a tour of the UK for November. Tickets go on sale tomorrow (Wednesday 25 May) at 9 AM from the band’s official Web site.

Thursday 10th November 2011 – Bristol O2 Academy
Friday 11th November 2011 – Birmingham O2 Academy
Saturday 12th November 2011 – Southampton Guildhall
Monday 14th November 2011 – Nottingham Rock City
Tuesday 15th November 2011 – Newcastle O2 Academy
Thursday 17th November 2011 – Manchester O2 Apollo
Friday 18th November 2011 – Glasgow Barrowlands
Saturday 19th November 2011 – Leeds O2 Academy
Monday 21st November 2011 – Cambridge Corn Exchange
Tuesday 22nd November 2011 – Lincoln Engine Shed
Friday 25th November 2011 – London Brixton Academy
Saturday 26th November 2011 – London Brixton Academy (added 27 May 2011)

 

Album Review: Friendly Fires – Pala

 
By on Wednesday, 11th May 2011 at 12:00 pm
 

It was with much trepidation that I queued up the new Friendly Fires for a tentative first listen. After their largely DIY (yet sounding polished) self-titled debut album released 3 years ago that I still adore to this day, I figured the three from St. Albans were going to have to knock this one out of the park to impress me (and so far, sophomore albums released in 2011 have been largely hohum in my opinion). The cover of ‘Pala’, adorned by a brilliantly coloured parrot, clues you in that this is going to be a tropical-sounding album, which is perfect considering it’s being released right before the summer festival season gets in full swing. According to this Purple Revolver interview, it was entirely written by lead singer / bassist / synth player Ed Macfarlane, so he is going to be either your saviour or pain in the neck, depending on your first impression of this album. The band again employed Paul Epworth for production duties.

‘Live Those Days Tonight’, the first single, got its first airplay on Zane Lowe’s Radio1 programme in March. Unfortunately, I was not impressed in its lack of jangly guitars, a trend that was started by their stop-gap single release in summer 2009, ‘Kiss of Life’, described virtually everywhere as “tropicalia”. The echoey, introductory ethereal vocals recall ‘Jump in the Pool’, but there’s just too much going on here and in this case, it does not serve Friendly Fires well, as we know what they’re capable of from 2008’s ‘Friendly Fires’, relatively more stripped down (more can be read about the single from this previous TGTF post). With guest clavinet from Holy Ghost!‘s Alex Frankel, ‘True Love’, which I’m guessing is going to be another single down the road, suffers from the same fate. So if you’re more of a Friendly Fires purist, quite possibly you’re going to have a problem with ‘Pala’.

‘Blue Cassette’ reminisces in the days before digital music, when people traded physical plastic tapes instead of mp3 files over the internet. ‘Hurting’ is another track for reminiscing, if you look back at the cool beats of ’70s disco with fondness, as the trio have redone it with 21st century dance flair. The title track ‘Pala’ gets bonus points for having a chill, slinky, sexy vibe on an album that is otherwise high on life and therefore up tempoed. ‘Show Me Lights’ is a surprising highlight, showing how to do an r&b infused track that will get hips swinging on the dance floor. If only for Edd Gibson’s bouncy guitars, ‘Pull Me Back to Earth’ is a fun, boppy tune that won’t leave your head.

The misses? Macfarlane’s falsetto in ‘Running Away’. Oh dear. Just don’t go there. The computer bleeping in ‘Hawaiian Air’: the only grating thing about this otherwise slice of pop sunshine. ‘Helpless’, the closing track, is another slow jam like ‘Pala’ but this one drags its feet. Overall, there’s obvious signs of maturity in the writing and instrumentation on ‘Pala’. But for some reason, I’m not moved by the lyrics (but this might be an entirely moot point, considering this is a “dance album” and therefore no-one’s going to be scouring Macfarlane’s word choices anyway, they’re more interested in his dance moves onstage) and I just feel claustrophobic and not energised by hearing too many layers of sound.

I do know from personal experience that Friendly Fires is an amazing live band so maybe like the Temper Trap‘s ‘Conditions’ (another album I gave a not-so-great rating on), I’m guessing this is one of those better served up live. Want to listen for yourself? Stream the album live below, courtesy of the Hype Machine.

6/10

‘Pala’, the second album from Friendly Fires, will be released on Monday 16 May on XL Recordings. The band play tonight at Glasgow Arches and tomorrow at Manchester Sound Control (both shows sold out) just before appearing as the headlining act Friday night at Brighton Dome for 2011’s Great Escape.

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Friendly Fires / May 2011 UK Tour

 
By on Thursday, 7th April 2011 at 4:15 pm
 

One of TGTF’s favourite bands, Friendly Fires have announced three gig dates in May – for London, Glasgow and Manchester. Considering tickets to their earlier announced gig at London XOYO sold out very quickly (the gig taking place tonight, incidentally), you’d best be ready on the computer or phone tomorrow (8 April) if you want tickets to these. Tickets are on sale at 9 AM.

Read our earlier review of ‘Live Those Days Tonight’, the first taster from their album ‘Pala’ released next month, here.

Monday 9th May 2011 – London Heaven
Wednesday 11th May 2011 – Glasgow Arches
Thursday 12th May 2011 – Manchester Sound Control

 

Single Review: Friendly Fires – Live Those Days Tonight

 
By on Wednesday, 23rd March 2011 at 2:00 pm
 

Anyone who’s mates with me knows not to cross me when Friendly Fires comes up in conversation. In 2009, I travelled all over the place for those lads, and it was all because they put on a great live show. They put on a great live show because their debut album ‘Friendly Fires’ was brilliant in its simplicity: three young kids wrote and recorded their album in a garage in St. Albans, proving that you don’t need a ton of money, just a lot of talent and heart to make an amazing album (and a Mercury Prize-nominated album at that). 2008 was a long time ago, and now they have a lot to prove, coming back to the fold after what could be, to lesser bands, a precipitous drop off the musical radar.

Friendly Fires have some of the most devoted fans on the planet. (And I can say that because I’m one of them.) However, even I wondered how they would be received after an amazing 2009, then only making a few festival appearances here and there in 2010. Judging from SPIN’s report from this year’s South by Southwest, the band made a funky showing at the annual March industry soiree in Austin, so I take this as a good sign that Friendly Fires is back this year with a roar. But for everyone else like myself and probably the majority of you, yesterday’s premiere play on Zane Lowe’s Radio1 programme of ‘Live Those Days Tonight’, the first single from their upcoming second album ‘Pala’, was the first time we’ve heard any of the new material.

The good news: it’s funky and catchy. But it’s Friendly Fires, so it was always going to be funky and catchy. It’s going to be fabulous dance floor filler, and I would expect nothing less from them. As usual, drummer Jack Savidge gets a workout. The bad news: there’s this jarring beat (synthed piano?) that reminds me of that clanking noise in the Law and Order tv show theme song and some boyband tunes in the late ’90s.

The main problem? Too much going on. Sensory overload. Having seen Friendly Fires live five times, I know they put on a good show and they have plenty of talent. These three don’t need all these layers. Ed Macfarlane’s voice is strong and sultry enough to shine without loads of things going on in the background, and yet in ‘Live Those Days Tonight’, it’s almost like he has to shout just to compete with all the things vying for attention. And maybe it’s the mix, but Edd Gibson’s guitar gets lost in the shuffle. Travesty. (This is coming from a girl whose mum has heard ‘Kiss of Life’ so many times, she can hum the guitar solo.)

Maybe I need to see them perform it live to change my mind, but right now, I’m underwowed. I’m really hoping to be astonished by the rest of the album. Fingers crossed.

7/10

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9N9yLr2VmAY[/youtube]

Pala will be released on 16 May. Friendly Fires will preview tracks from the new album at a one-off gig at London XOYO – buy pre-sale tickets exclusively from the band’s Web site.

 

Preview: The Great Escape 2011

 
By on Wednesday, 26th January 2011 at 11:00 am
 

The first batch of acts scheduled to perform at Brighton’s Great Escape have been announced. The preliminary bill posted on the official festival Web site lists TGTF favourites from St. Albans, Friendly Fires (pictured above), playing a headlining set at Brighton Dome. Other acts scheduled to perform include bands hotly tipped for big things in 2011 like Katy B, Warpaint and Brother, as well as acts we’ve written quite a bit about on TGTF like Dutch Uncles and Villagers.

The Great Escape takes place in various venues across Brighton, Thursday the 12th to Saturday the 14th of May 2011. Early bird tickets for the 3-day event are still available at the very reasonable price of £35 (valid for entrance to all non-Dome shows). It’s only an additional £6 ‘top-up’ from the festival wristband to gain access to Brighton Dome concerts. Visit the official Great Escape Web site for more ticket information.

The list of acts announced for the festival so far are listed under the cut.
Continue reading Preview: The Great Escape 2011

 

MP3 of the Day #244: Friendly Fires and Azari & III

 
By on Wednesday, 29th September 2010 at 10:00 am
 

Friendly Fires (pictured above) have been working on their sophomore follow-up to their certified double gold self-titled debut album released in 2008. In the meantime, they offered a special music mix to the ‘Bugged Out Presents Suck My Deck’ series just released this week. The mix includes the track below that I deliberated on last month, a collaboration with Azari & III named ‘Stay Here’.

The band is offering the track as a free download; you can grab it below. Note: the download is only available for 2 weeks.

You can order Friendly Fires’ ‘Bugged Out Presents Suck My Deck’ from HMV by clicking here or Rough Trade here.

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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