Returning last year after what felt like a hiatus that lasted an eternity, British 3-piece Friendly Fires will be on Australian soil for the first time in 8 years. Over the course of 11 years, 2 albums and 2 brand new singles Friendly Fires have managed to divulge into an array of genres and sounds. Dance-rock, funk, disco, house, new-wave and electro-pop; the boys have done it all. It is for this reason that they will be one of the most exciting and unexpected acts of the festival. After so many years in the black, you can’t help but imagine what the boys have in their bag of goodies for the Splendour crowd.
Wind the clock back to 2008 and Friendly Fires self-titled debut album was hot property amongst music circles everywhere. Praised by fans and critics alike, it was an intoxicating mixture of disco-funk electronica with rock and punk undertones. Blending genres not too dissimilar to the likes of LCD Soundsystem and Cut Copy before them, the Brits were on to something special. It wasn’t before long that classic singles On Board, White Diamonds and In The Hospital were making their way into television ads and into the homes across the globe. Nearly every single song on their colourful debut was built to get your feet to move in the most organic of ways. Turbulent basslines and dizzying percussions of drums, bongos, cow bells and whistles filled every inch of each tune. Ed Macfarlane’s vocals would hit highs yet never falter and his use of range and tone had a way of seducing you into the groove in the most effortless of ways.
Rather than attempt to live up to the hype of their genre-blending debut, Friendly Fires returned 3 years later with a much tighter and mature LP in Pala. Having a much more tropical and summer vibe, Friendly Fires embraced new-wave, electro-pop and even 80s dance to forge a simmering sophomore album. Singles I live Those Days Tonight and Hawaiian Air impressed fans of old and new with a new style of Friendly Fires without ever sacrificing their skill in getting the body to move. It perhaps didn’t live up to the hype at the time, but there is no denying returning to it nowadays the album is stunning. Mastered much better than its predecessor, Pala is so finely tuned and gorgeously produced that it never ages. Talking to people 8 years on about the album, many feel that perhaps we weren’t ready for the shift in tone. Show Me Lights and Chimes are two deeper cuts that really flesh out what the band was trying to achieve in a much clearer and upbeat sound. Sadly this was the last we would hear from Friendly Fires for 8 years, with a single in 2012 we weren’t given anything new until last year, where the band returned from their hiatus.
Propelling themselves back into the spotlight with Love Like Waves, Friendly Fires had announced themselves reformed with a brand-new sound. This new sound continued on into follow up singles Heaven Let Me In and Lack of Love. They still had the trademark Friendly Fires dance rhythm and breathy vocals, but with a disco/house and boogie feel. These singles boast the most upbeat Friendly Fires to date, removing the punk roots and opening themselves to a new world of electronica. With an album due on the 11th of August, the hype is well overdue for Friendly Fires 3rd outing.
So if you are gunning for their live set or happen to waltz in for a gander, what should you expect from Friendly Fires? A LOT of energy and good times. I cannot stress enough how vibrant these boys get when they’re on stage, just take cues from their music. Flashing lights, confetti, streamers and a good deal of dancing is what these boys have delivered in the past and if recent outings are anything to go by, they’ll be ready to do it all again at Splendour. Whether you know every word or not, get ready for a cracking party of all sorts.
Song you don’t want to miss – On Board
This fan favourite never fails to raise the roof life, with a throbbing bassline and an array of (literal) bells and whistles, it’ll be sure to get the crowd pumping. Expect this song to go off with some cold hard energy and emotion.
Friendly Fires' Set-time Saturday 20th of Juy - 8:45pm - 9:45pm MIX-UP Stage Friendly Fires Australian Tour Dates Melbourne, 170 Russell - 21st of July Sydney, The Metro Theatre - 22nd of July