Real Friends

Put Yourself Back Together EP

Written by: PP on 11/09/2013 22:59:57

I don't think anyone saw this coming, the staggering impact of a band like The Wonder Years on an entire scene, a style of music, and a subculture within the struggling American suburbia. In a time where pop punk was all about superfluous lyrics, polished soundscapes, and hopeless saturation in the wake of Fall Out Boy's meteoric success, it took but a couple of records for The Wonder Years to turn the genre upside down and make words like raw, passionate, honesty-driven and emotional standard when discussing new bands in the genre. What we're looking at here in the form of Real Friends and their absolutely brilliant EP "Put Yourself Back Together" is the direct byproduct of realist pop punk in the vein of The Wonder Years, the second wave of such bands, which source their sound directly from the pioneers, while surrendering themselves utterly and hopelessly into the themes and leitmotifs of the genre.

I'll address the elephant in the room straight away: Real Friends sound identical to The Wonder Years by every possible measure. The vocalist sounds exactly like Soupy, the instrumentals share precisely the same range and melodic ring to them, and the lyrical universe consists of equally brutal honest dissection of one's life situation, experiences, and lessons learned. "Dead" even has a lyric that I'm convinced references "Hoodie Weather": "When the weather clears, that sweatshirt weather won't keep you warm like I do". There is literally no difference between "Put Yourself Back Together" and "Suburbia..." or "The Greatest Generation". Except for one minor feature. It is better than the latter, and not by an insignificant margin either. It's arguably even greater than "Suburbia...", and I dare say it is the record TWY should've written instead of "The Greatest Generation" this year. It's not a coincidence that the band have released just this EP and one three-track release prior, yet they've attained 39,000 fans on Facebook already.

There are two components to why that's the case. One, the instrumental base, sourced entirely from the realist pop punk movement through its aggressive tempo and raw guitars, yet insanely catchy, melancholically ringing melodies, is nothing short of fantastic. Two, and this is the more important one, their lyrical universe is among the most personal, most heartbreaking you'll come across. These are songs that speak straight to your heart with no filters in between to tarnish the pure emotion and introspection raining out of the pipes of vocalist Dan Lambton, whose knack for writing and delivering instantly memorable phrases is second to none within this scene.

In fact, the EP opens with one such moment, where his melancholic, yet energetic vocals establish the underlying theme--or the concept if you will--of the EP immediately: "I've been up spending every weeknight in my car, listening to all these sad songs....I know it sounds weird.". For the next seven tracks, the concept of listening, writing, and screaming "these fucking sad songs" is explored both indirectly and directly, where either the lyrics repeat themselves in different parts of the EP, or the whole idea of "If you never break... you'll never know how to put yourself back together" is revisited. The lyricism deals with heartache and heartbreak, yet treated with a variety of approaches ranging from pessimistic to optimistic, from metaphors to brutal honesty that you can't help but connect with it. That his vocal style is as melancholic--or whiny according to some--as Soupy's makes it sound all the more believable. Speaking of the catchphrases I mentioned earlier, consider some of these golden nuggets from "Skin Deep":

I'll spend the winter blending into the streets and sidewalks that make up this town - at least it gave me someone else to write another one of these sad fucking songs about.

I've got this lonely night and Jimmy Eat World. I never had you and you told me I never did. [...] I've been told that home is where the heart is. If that's the case, I've never been home.

Or what about this one from "Lost Boy":

If I had a backyard I would bury all my memories of you in it. Everything that we had would die right down in the dirt. I wish I had the guts to say this to your face, but the past five years took everything I had and ripped it out of me. You used to make me feel like I was something...now you make me feel like absolutely nothing

Or this one from "Late Nights In My Car": I'm not where I should be. I'm not what I could be. But I'm not who I was. Nostalgia gets the best of me. . I could go on and on quoting lyrics that on paper may seem cliché and normal, but when sung by Lambton come alive in pure emotion and realism on the record. It's his singing and honesty that elevates Real Friends to the level of the best bands playing realist pop punk. They may sound identical to The Wonder Years, but you'd have to be almost deaf not to admit that this is the better record between "The Greatest Generation" and this one.

9

Download: Late Nights In My Car, Skin Deep
For the fans of: The Wonder Years, With The Punches, Thieves, Handguns
Listen: Facebook

Release date 04.06.2013
Self-Released

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