So before one writes a review of a band which one does not previously know, one must certainly Google the band. Turns out Googling a band called “Friends” is very, very difficult. There were results for a band called The Friend, another band called Just Friends, a video of Mickey Mouse and Friends, and a cute-pop band called Friends that wasn’t the same as the Friends one was looking for. Googling a band called Friends is like losing your friends at a concert and finding everyone else’s friends but your own.
Anyhow, this particular iteration of Friends is a three-man lineup of Nashville musicians recently signed to Blood & Ink Records. The label’s site describes them as a “hook-laden hybrid of pop-punk and emo.” B&I, you nailed it. Emo is a divisive genre. It’s difficult to criticize it because so much of assigning value to emo music is based on whether or not the critic is a fan of emo music (an emo lover might have harsher standards of what is good or bad emo, whereas a non-lover [or a hater!] can’t tell the difference). So here’s the verdict: if you don’t like emo, skip it; if you like emo, you’ll like Better Off Alone, but you won’t love it the way you love your battered copy of Tell All Your Friends.
Each of the four songs are equally tuneful, with identical guitar/bass/drum setups, wailing Jesse Lacey harmonies on choruses, and songwriting seeming to have graduated from the Blink 182 Institute of Technology with a concentration in Take Off Your Pants and Jacket. Everything is straightforward: “I get weak in the knees/When I think about the choices I still have to make” on “College Sucks;" “Remember when we were younger?/We had what we needed” on “Riding Down Hills Fast”. The song tempos all have the genre specific hard-hitting snare and 2/2 time signatures. It’s a tidy EP that will please who it wants to please without causing much of a wave elsewhere, the kind of music that will probably garner Friends a humble, faithful fan base, even if they’re not so search engine–friendly.
1. Better Off Alone
3. Riding Down Hills Fast
4. College Sucks