I’m going to be honest here- I’ve always viewed Real Friends as ‘just another pop punk band’. With the mass of bands around in the pop-punk world, I never really had the time to check them out, and the few times I did, I was less than inspired by what I found. What piqued my interest in this album (apart from giving them a fairer shot) was that the band actually agreed with me. Bassist Kyle Fasel said that the band were ‘less than stoked on their last record’, and so the band got into the studio, and put a lot of work into making this their best album yet.
And on sound alone, it’s pretty much there. This is something cleaner, tighter, and more concise than the band have ever produced, and the end project really shows. Somehow, the band have managed to make this sound more like a connected album, while making all the songs stand out on their own, which is definitely an impressive feat in itself. But it’s not only that that’s improved- the songwriting is much better as well. It’s incredibly rare to find a pop-punk album that doesn’t use any clichés of the genre, but this comes as close as anything I’ve heard in quite a while.
But something this album really wins on is its melodies- almost every chorus is a fist-pumping classic, from the energetic opener ‘Me First’, to the emphatic closer ‘Take A Hint’. The lyrics are still desperately hopeless, so there’s no change in that, but the albums seems to have a renewed sense of positive energy that helps to balance this out. The band have still managed to keep the subject matter, just without making the album a drag to listen to this time.
In the end, whether it’s the slow build of ‘Unconditional Love’, the frantic ‘Get By’, or ‘Hear What You Want’, which falls somewhere in the middle of the two, this album isn’t only refreshing for the band, but refreshing for the genre as a whole. Creativity isn’t exactly rife in the pop-punk world at the moment, but this album has revolutionised the band’s sound- the sheer amount of great melodies here will keep every fan of the genre coming back again.
Best songs: Hear What You Want, Get By, From The Outside