Friends – Manifest (Album Review)

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In rain lashed England, it’s possible to feel like we’ll never see the Sun ever again.  But in Brooklyn right now it’s 20 degrees and clear skies.  From those sunny skies come the fresh sound of “Friends” with their debut album ‘Manifest’.

The Brooklyn based quartet have an exciting reputation as a superb up and coming live act and their first album sounds exciting, upbeat and imaginative.  Unashamedly poppy, unpretentiously produced and unrepentantly cool, ‘Manifest’ has a theme of fun, friendship, love and just having a good time running down its spine.

Unlike other ‘hipster’ influenced bands, Friends are much more laid back with their sound and there is little of the preening and sullen cool of some of the other bands that have begun life in the hipster capital of the world.

The album is built around tracks that are fun, upbeat and are punchy little pop songs.  They’re not the sort of thing that will likely become a chart sensation but they are easy to bob your head to and some wouldn’t be out of place on the dance floor at a club.

The opening track “Friend Crush” is a jazzy, fast upbeat tune that really sets the tone for the next four.  “Sorry” is a bit more gentle and is suffused with sweet lyrics.  “Home” has a more tropical sunny beat and evokes a bit of Cyndi Lauper with the vocals.

“A Thing Like This” follows up with a real 80’s retro kick, built around a synth-beat that would fit in nicely in the soundtrack to a John Hughes movie.  The album takes a slight turn for the tense with the longing, sweet “A Light”.

“Ideas On Ghosts” weaves sadder and faster themes before the punky, gloomy “Ruins” arrives which hearks to the likes of the “Yeah Yeah Yeahs” or even the great “Siouxie Sioux”.

“I’m His Girl” is one of the stand out songs, a funky guitar riff and dark exciting beats coil around the brash lyrics.  This is a modern girl-power song and it’s a sure to get people tapping their feet.

“Proud/Ashamed” is my personal favourite on the album.  A hugely catchy song that is soaked in ethereal vocals and a dream-like sound, it’s almost a little like the “Cocteau Twins”.

“Stay Dreaming” is another fast paced, slightly Jamaican sounding song before the bolshy and punk influenced “Va Fan Gor Du” crashes down.  Much more aggressive but in a playful way, it’s a really fun track.

The album closes out with perhaps the most famous track on the album. “Mind Control” is a big, funky song with a call and response chorus and some wicked tongue in cheek lyrics.

With “Manifest”, Friends have just entered stage right.  An album that’s here to make sure you have a good time and maybe get to your feet and dance, Manifest is well worth checking out.

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