Album Reviews: Friendly Fires - Friendly Fires

Some records tingle as they slip down your spine. Some records sound like every great summer of your youth squeezed into four minutes. Some records sound like quitting your job forever and moving to Spain. Mostly these records feature on an album called Friendly Fires by, you guessed it, St. Alban's hottest: Friendly Fires.

Album opener and first official single 'Jump In The Pool' defies words: take how gorgeous 'Paris' (previously out on Moshi Moshi as a limited release) sounds, add some sparkling Latino rhythms and literally submerge the whole thing in the pool from the opening scene of A Life Less Ordinary (Diaz optional) and you still haven't quite got some lush enough. It's the only track that isn't self-produced (Paul Epworth got in touch after hearing their earlier efforts) and as such you would be forgiven for thinking nothing else sounds as good. But you would be dead wrong...

If you are still reading this and you haven't actually heard 'Paris' (previuosly featured on BlackPlastic here) then, in all honesty, stop wasting your time because you should be checking it out on YouTube rather than reading BlackPlastic's futile attempts to describe how good this sounds. Retooled with vocals from Au Revoir Simone (yes, BlackPlastic loves you too girls) it is as unstoppably optimistically full of glamour and hope and lust as ever. And it proves something the is reconfirmed over and over during the 38 minutes of music here: not only can Friendly Fires write a good tune but they can work the spit and polish too. Despite the fact it was recorded on a laptop with an old microphone this album has a staggering amount of detail and shines even if you don't know of it's humble origins. Electronic warmth and techno stabs make this one of the most distinctive records you will hear this year. No other band captures dance music in it's rawest form quite like Friendly Fires.

The only criticism that can be levelled at this record is that, if you've been paying attention, you'll already know six of ten tracks. Trouble is, they're six of the best songs you've heard in ages and the others are just as good.

'On Board' still adds post-punk magic you the synth line from Jamie Principle's 'Your Love'. 'Lovesick' is an 80s catwalk of a record that switches from eyelinered vocals in the verse to to a minimal-inspired chorus and back again before a tech-house closer, whilst 'Ex Lover' oozes enough magic to finish things off on a high.

Friendly Fires have gone and put every good idea most bands have in their whole careers into one album and, staggeringly, it works. James Murphy had better watch out: not since LCD Soundsystem's Sound of Silver has a band quite so confidently pushed the envelope concerning what a band can be.

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