Real Friends – ‘Composure’ (Album Review)
Emo and pop-punk bands tend to travel through a series of stages as they get older. At first, their work can easily come across as immature – often because it is – before they gradually shift towards rockier sounds and come face to face with adult, not adolescent, challenges. Real Friends have taken that path, and it’s currently culminating in Warped Tour headliner status and this hotly-anticipated third album, Composure.
Real Friends have intensified their focus on melody and maturity this time out, holing up in the studio with Paramore / All Time Low producer Mike Green and, yes, pushing on into Pop-Rock Land. The gap between surface appearances and hidden mental health issues is a recurring theme on advance singles From The Outside and Smiling On The Surface – and in a culture increasingly aware of such problems while also obsessed with concealing them behind highlight-reel social media feeds, such topics are timely indeed. Real Friends have never been known for glossing over life’s dark side, and they’re not about to stop now.
Composure is not a groundbreaking, hyper-innovative album, but it is effective. Relationship difficulties remain a core concern during Me First, Hear What You Want, Unconditional Love, Get By, and Ripcord, while nostalgia rears its head on title track Composure. Throughout it all, Mike Green’s exceptional production work gives every beat, riff, chord, and lyric some extra weight, emphasising Real Friends’ struggle for stability and self-support – not to mention their success in achieving the above.
Take A Hint closes Composure on a positive if slightly below-par note, its purpose more functional than emphatic. Although that track lacks conviction, the vast majority of the songs that come before it remain some of the best that Real Friends have ever penned or recorded. As a third album, Composure is ultimately a high-quality career landmark.
LTK RATING: 85%
Pre-order Composure (out July 13) on iTunes.
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