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Editors’ Notes

Friendly Fires’ 2008 eponymous debut introduced a promising band with an uncanny knack for songwriting, but it also revealed the them as genre neophytes, trying on bygone musical styles like vintage clothing. With Pala, the Hertfordshire, England–based trio solidify their sound. Over a dance-punk foundation, Friendly Fires trim their tunes with trace elements of disco, soul, dream-pop, and post-punk. The instantly winsome “Live Those Days Tonight” opens, pulsing on cosmopolitan dance-pop. Without reverting to retro rehash, the tune recalls moments of neon brilliance last heard in 1986. The following “Blue Cassette” starts like an early Daft Punk outtake before unraveling into a gigantic swooning anthem where the band somehow fuses a '80s New Romantic–flavored chorus with verses enveloped in electro-pop. This creates a well-oiled machine of innovative, kinetic dance music loaded to the gills with pop hooks. “Hurting” is another solid standout, where glossy disco rhythms and blue-eyed soul melodies braid together. “Pull Me Back to Earth” remains festive amid its gauzy soundscapes.

Customer Reviews

Perfect summer album

Buy it, your life will be better for it

Pala

Klaxons moved onto space/noise-rock, Foals moved onto deeper indie. Hot Chip continue to evolve into different dance mammals with every album, and LCD Soundsystem are no more.

Friendly Fires also released an indie-dance classic. Their self-titled effort was lapped up by critics though the band failed to chart in the top 40 on seven occasions, and the album couldn't quite grasp onto the top 20. As brilliant as it was simplistic, the record was a machine of very noticeable parts; you could hear each instrument working in sync and marvel at each infectious bassline and swooning synth.

Good luck trying to pull Pala apart.

Lead single and opening track Live Those Days Tonight opens with stratospheric synth chords -euphoric enough to raise your pulse - and on from there, it's a carnival of piano clashes, samba percussion, zig-zagging synths and Ed Macfarlane's defiant howls of "I'll live". It's a party tune unlike any other from an indie band; ambitious, lushly-textured and singalong. Unlike In The Hospital and Skeleton Boy, the chorus doesn't feel like a desperate turning that needs to be made, it feels like a joyous release of energy and colour. Yet it still retains that confident, optimistic vein that runs through classic pop music of old: the song happens to be not only the highlight of the record, but perhaps of British music in 2011.

Undeterred by previous chart failure, Pala is the sound of a band opening the doors to scores of pop fans, and building heavily upon the first album. Blue Cassette is Discovery-era Daft Punk mixed with glorious samba percussion; Hawaiian Air is a frenetic, four-minute plane journey that bleeds Paris and Jump In The Pool; hip-hopping Show Me Lights is effortlessly cool, built for city night-life and oozing with class; and Helpless is glassy R&B that rivals the sophistication of Kanye West's more melodic endeavours. It's everything-but-the-kitchen-sink production for most of the album, but rather than evoking terrible 80s pop, it sounds more akin to the fantastically-produced Basement Jaxx.

This is an alien album for a conventional rock-band set-up; usually this sort of sound only comes from dance duos and producers. It's well-crafted, often daft lyrically, vibrant and perfect for summer 2011. Pala is a brilliant comeback for Friendly Fires and one that will hopefully see them garner fans aplenty in the coming weeks.

soundtrack to a summer?

if you liked the first album, you'll like this one too- sound is a bit bigger in scope than the original

loving it already

Biography

Formed: St. Albans, Hertfordshire, Englan

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Playing dance-oriented music with the feel of indie pop but the insistent pulse of disco, Friendly Fires hail from St. Albans in Hertfordshire, England. Featuring Ed Macfarlane on vocals and keyboards, Edd Gibson on guitar, and Jack Savidge on drums, all three members of Friendly Fires were in their early twenties when they began making a splash on the U.K. music scene in 2006. After winning a following for their live work, they released their debut recording, an EP titled Photobooth, through the...
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Pala, Friendly Fires
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