Real Friends

The Home Inside My Head

Written by: HES on 21/10/2016 11:40:21

I'll have to first disclaim that I never understood the hype around pop-punk constellation Real Friends. Generally I am just often let down by bands that somehow attract the descriptive "emo" as I seldom find them to actually match any of the criteria for the genre, apart from the "emotional" aspect. I am afraid the same thing goes for Real Friends. However, the band still gets boxed in with genre champions like The Wonder Years and "Take This To Your Friends"-era Fall Out Boy. If anything piques my interest, it's comparisons like those.

"The Home Inside My Head" is an album that doesn't impress musically or in construction. It seems a general symptom of the pop-punk genre, that bands pump out albums to ride the wave, but only including a few "bangers" in a wish-washy mix of well... boring songs: "Scared To Be Alone", "Stay In One Place", "Keep Lying To Me", "Mokena", "Well I'm Sorry", "Door Without a Key" and "Eastwick" to mention a few of those that make very little to no impression. It feels like a deja vu to Moose Blood's latest release "Blush" whereof the majority of songs seemed somewhat "filler"-like.

But just as was the case of "Blush", "The Home Inside My Head" also contains some more catchy songs that seems to have been worked on more thoroughly. Among those are "Mess", "Colder Quicker" and "Scared To Be Alone" - scattered over the 12-track album. The difference here is that not only has the band struggled with choosing songs; They actually passed the chance of throwing at least two songs out and make the impression of the album marginally better. Instead now, the good songs drown.

One thing that is also pretty clear at the first couple of run-throughs, is that Real Friends' Eric Haines is not a great lyricist, unlike Dan "Soupy" Campbell of The Wonder Years and Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy. Take for instance the bridge of the otherwise well-crafted chorus of "Mess" that simply is a bromidic "I'm still a lost boy. Or compare the way of using it takes Eric Haines 4 bars in "Door Without A Key" ("The tears run down your cheekbones. I feel sorry for you - but I'm too fucking selfish to say I do") to sum up what Dan "Soupy" Campbell's lyrics of "There, There" can do in just one ("You're just trying to read but I'm always standing in your light").

Whereas the band's previous record explored the classic emotional outpour, this album has an "I'm getting better"-attitude, but this feature is flat, non-reflexive and uninteresting: "I'm a rain cloud. And the sun is shining right through me. I'm trying to be different". Whereas a band like Motion City Soundtrack has championed the ambivalence of trying to get better, Real Friends again seem to mirror what they have seen in the genre, but without the emotional urgency and without using their musical expression to support it. It's not helped along by vocalist Dan Lambton's nasal and flat phrasings - not unlike Kenny Vasoli of The Starting Line that peaked and disappeared in the last pop-punk wave.

In sophomore albums you usually look for the aspects of progress or evolution - any sign of a band showing a musical sustainability. Especially in this genre where the market is pretty saturated, it becomes pivotal to differentiate yourself. You usually do that by zooming in on features that makes your band "genre leader" in some way. Unfortunately for Real Friends, they have decided to place themselves in a situation where the things they are trying to make their trademark, some bands already did or are doing better. It seems the band's focus has also been too tied up by their previous sound; The band is essentially now only taking on themselves as competition and their EP "Put Your Self Back Together" is not by any standards surpassed by "The Home Inside My Head". Some fans will of course still listen to "The Home Inside My Head", but I fear that it's too much to ask casual followers to adopt an album that in so many ways is a paint by numbers game, replicating former releases by both the band itself and giants of the genre, and at a lower level.


Download: Mess, Colder Quicker, Scared to be Alone
For The Fans Of: The Wonder Years, The Starting Line, With The Punches, The Story So Far,

Release date 27.05.2016
Fearless Records

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