Fun, fast, riff-packed tracks, the occasional sadder, slower number and heartfelt metaphorical lyricism revolving around loss, heartbreak and isolation: the themes we all know and love from established pop punk favourites Real Friends. Now they’re back with long-awaited sophomore album ‘The Home Inside My Head,’ a collection of great jams that feature the latter with an evolved, maturing sound.
‘Mokena’ fills the role of the aforementioned trademark slower song – the ‘I’ve Given Up On You’ or ‘Sixteen’ if you will. It is atmospherically melancholy as expected, but has a more progressive edge to the chorus that demonstrates advancement; it is reflective, featuring the discovery of a new-found ability to accept messing up, and move on: “I’m f*cking up and getting over it, I’m over it.”
’Empty Picture Frames’ is an album highlight with an effectively fluctuating tempo and solitary, sorrowful lyrics that allude to the album title: “The home inside my head has a bed for me that no-one will ever get the chance to see.” Frontman Dan Lambton’s humble vocals make the track stand out, proving a step up from the angst-fuelled shouting to which we are accustomed.
‘Mess’ mirrors ‘Mokena’ thematically (“Last year I was a train wreck, now I’m just a mess / I’m letting go so I don’t lose myself”) and as Real Friends love to do, references another band. It’s awesome – and it’s Death Cab For Cutie, if you wondered. A neat track that bleeds contemporary pop punk in all its glory.
‘Colder Quicker’ is the most catchy with its fun riffs and noteworthy lyrics (“I feel it in my insides / I’m paralysed with guilt”) closing the album perfectly, whilst ‘Eastwick’ preens its twinkly intro and delightful simplicity. The lyrics are both highly metaphorical and rhetorical (“Which branch fell and left me here to crawl through this sinkhole?”) throughout, as is the soft, easy tone emphasising Lambton’s habitually praiseworthy vocals.
Real Friends have been previously slated for their regurgitated style, but we can’t help but love their music. Either way, ‘The Home Inside My Head’ does prove an evolution of sound, most notably in ‘Scared to Be Alone’ and ‘Door Without A Key’, and an advancement thematically as mentioned, but nonetheless allows the Illinois four-piece to shine as they always have, and as they merit to.
‘The Home Inside My Head’ by Real Friends is released on May 27th on Fearless Records
Words by Lucy Jones (@loo_say9)