Real Friends – ‘Composure’

By Liam Knowles

Pop punk regularly gets a bad rap from alternative music purists, mostly because it’s often aimed at a younger audience and therefore seen as a lesser medium. Every so often, though, a band releases a record of such undeniably high quality that the gatekeepers have no choice but to let them bypass all that nonsense. Real Friends could be the next band to reap the benefits of that crossover appeal with the release of ‘Composure’, a record that manages to be genuinely mature and heartfelt whilst also being barrels of fun and relentlessly infectious.

Opener ‘Me First’ opens with a few lines of vocal over sparse clean guitars before the band kicks in properly and showcases the impeccable sound delivered by veteran producer Mike Green. Dan Lambton’s voice sits perfectly atop the snappy drum pattern of the verses and soars over the driving chorus. Big choruses are apparently the name of the game here as practically every track contains at least one anaconda-sized earworm, the best examples being the joyous bounce of ‘From The Outside’ and the almost ‘Footloose’-esque ‘Ripcord’. Real Friends probably didn’t expect a Footloose reference to turn up in the reviews for ‘Composure’ but if that doesn’t give you an idea of just how damn catchy it is then nothing will.

Lyrically ‘Composure’ deals with some fairly well-thumbed issues such as addiction and mental health, but does so tastefully and they’re delivered with an air of authenticity that is often lacking in bands at the accessible end of the spectrum. When Lambton asks ‘Can I shoulder the burden? Can I stomach the past?’ on ‘Stand Steady’ it feels genuinely self-reflective, and he doubles down on this with the line ‘looking back on my youth, it’s good that I’ve grown.’

This album has a couple of weaker moments, such as the slightly lazy pre-chorus of the otherwise excellent ‘Smiling On The Surface’, and sickly slow-burner ‘Unconditional Love’ doesn’t carry as much weight as most of the other tracks, but these don’t take away from how solid a release ‘Composure’ is. If you like bands like Transit and Cartel who make well-constructed and considered pop-punk, rather than have it feel like a box-ticking exercise to get the kids interested, then ‘Composure’ should be an essential port of call.

 

LIAM KNOWLES

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