Real Friends

Album Review: Real Friends – Composure

Bands that work non-stop to get their name and music out there show everyone what dedication truly means. Bands that know when to pause for the sake of their band members prove that mental health is just as important as physical health. Bands that show growth between albums always prove to be the strongest musicians. Real Friends is all of these things.

Real Friends are Dan Lambton (vocals), Kyle Fasel (bass), Dave Knox (guitar) and Brian Blake (drums) and their third album, Composure, is out July 13 via Fearless Records.

The band took a brief and unannounced hiatus in 2017 following Lambton’s bipolar disorder worsening. Since his diagnoses, Lambton has worked incredibly hard to get to the healthier state his is in now and working to repair the strain between band members that was formed.

If anything, the hiatus strengthened Real Friends musically. Composure serves as a fresh start on the band’s new music journey. The lush and defined sound propel their pop punk sound in a more mature direction.

This break for the band allowed to work on the album in a new way. In an interview with Alt Press, the band revealed the album wasn’t fully written when they entered the studio. This allowed Real Friends to work closely with producer Mike Green (Paramore, All Time Low) and alongside Jeremy Mckinnon (vocalist, A Day To Remember) and Andrew Wade (producer and engineer, A Day To Remember, Neck Deep, Rough Start) to create an album packed with songs that prove Real Friends talent.

“Mike works in a very similar manner to us, anyway. He was like the sixth member of the band. A thing we really wanted to hone in on with Composure was the catchiness of the vocals, and Jeremy and Andrew are so talented at that. They showed us new ways to do things,” Real Friends told Alt Press.

Composure is unarguably the band’s most raw, honest and real album. Lyrically, it leaves things open ended enough for listeners to compose their own meaning, yet still tells a complete story, full of emotion while being catchy enough to draw you in to listen again and again.

Opening with “Me First,” the band draws listeners in sticking to their pop punk roots. The hard hitting chorus has Lambton yelling out “why don’t you put me first for once,” a lyric that will hit fans right in the feelings. The track has everything a mature pop punk sound should, complete with a hard hitting chorus, guitar riffs that draw you in further than you already where and layers on top everything on the track creating a dense soundscape perfect for an introduction.

“Smiling on the Surface” shows the more raw side of the band. The honest lyrics pulling you into the chorus “so I’ll keep on smiling on the surface, hiding my nerves behind the curtain” are musically emphasised with the most of the band dropping out, leaving Lambton’s vocals raw and exposed. The entire track discloses Lambton’s feelings, but what a large population across the world and creates a conversation that typically doesn’t happen due to the stigma surrounding topics of mental health.

Title track, “Composure,” was written before the rest of the album was even decided. This track perfectly shows the growth across the entire album. Musically, it’s more progressive than typical pop punk, showing off a more pop rock edge while still reflecting on Real Friends’ pop punk roots. The melodies are only heightened with the lyrics that are captivating and vivid, perfectly displaying Lambton’s vocal ability.

“Ripcord” shows the Mckinnon influence on the record. The fast paced song features enough rises and falls it keeps listeners on their toes not knowing what is going to happen next. It shows the emotional pull that Mckinnon has perfected on A Day To Remember tracks in both the lyrics and instrumental sections combined with captivating melodies that keep the track moving.

While this only is a handful of the album, each track on Composure shows the real Real Friends and the world that surrounds them. Each track easily holds its place instrumentally, lyrically and musically. However, all 10 tracks come together and creates something special.

“We focused more on melodies than ever before. We focused more on the overall emotional climate of each song than ever before,” Kyle Fasel told Billboard. “But when all the songs come together it creates our best effort to date.”

While this only is a handful of the album, each track on Composure shows the real Real Friends and the world that surrounds them. Each track easily holds its place instrumentally, lyrically and musically. However, all 10 tracks come together and creates something special.

If you’re looking to listen to an album that doesn’t hold anything back, Composure is what you need to check out.

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