Funeral for a Friend

The Young And Defenceless EP

Written by: DR on 01/10/2010 19:07:43

'Funeral For A Friend? They're still around?' Yes, they are, they've just been underwhelmingly quiet since their album "Tales Don't Tell Themselves", which was their last on the label Atlantic. In interviews at the time they alluded to having their creative control somewhat limited, along with having problems with certain staff on the label, so they decided not to re-negotiate their contract and instead formed their own label, Join Us. It wasn't very long before they presented to us "Memory And Humanity", a decent enough release, but it didn't make a huge impact, which brings us back to them being too quiet; they've been locked away writing and writing and writing, taking more care and time with their music - this EP was initially slated for release in the spring, but here it is, and unless you're a fan boy (like me) you probably had little idea it was even out.

The last time boys from Bridgend released a four-track EP was "Four Ways To Scream Your Name" in 2003, and I think you'll agree that time was their greatest period, so it's decent omen. However, "The Young And Defenceless" is not a throwback to songs like "This Year's Most Open Heartbreak" or "Kiss And Make Up (All Bets Are Off), which might seem a shame because they are fucking awesome, but it's also a good thing because that sound would be slightly dated seven years and hundreds of copy-cat bands later. Instead, we have what is something of an attempt to appease fans of old but also an attempt to unleash their inner rock band. This means screams and some tasty guitar-shredding courtesy of Kris Roberts, but also a polished sound and a few big choruses to boot. Plus, Matt's vocals are nowhere near as whiney as they used to be.

Certainly an interesting proposition, and end result; nothing here sounds made-for-radio like their previous two albums, yet it is smooth and catchy, not exactly like the post-hardcore of old. "Serpents In Solitude" begins with electronic sampling, slowly giving way to the heaviest instrumentation out of all four tracks, definitely a nod to their younger selves, but with a solid chorus such as the one it has they remain rooted in rock territory. "Vultures" is a step-down; it suffers from sounding so indecisive, caught between trying to maintain metallic guitars and a generally heavy edge with a polished chorus. Not to mention Matt is far too smart a lyricist to write something as trite as "I'm not done speaking my mind". And those screams of "EXTINCTION!! at the end are far too forced. Closer "Sixteen" sounds right out of "Memory And Humanity", which isn't a bad thing if you like well executed alternative rock.

You may have noticed I said there were four tracks, yet appear to have missed one. It was deliberate, save the best for the last and all of that. Enter: "Damned If You Do, Dead If You Don't". The greater freedom for lead guitarist Kris (Darran Smith left *sob*), which wasn't so apparent in their previous effort, results in one of the best riffs in FFAF back catalogue, add to that some damn fine drumming from Ryan Richards on drums and you end up with one of their tightest songs. Period. And by far and away the best song on this EP.

Funeral for a Friend are currently applying the finishing touches to their next full-length, which we can probably expect early next year, and if the better moments on this EP are any indication of where they are headed with it, it could end up being their best release since "Hours". It's maybe too early to get excited, but... FFAF could become relevant again, after all.

Download: Damned If You Do, Dead If You Don't
For The Fans of: Finch; Silverstein; Fightstar
Listen: Myspace

Release Date 06.09.2010
Join Us Records

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