Hailing from Tinley Park, Illinois, Real Friends are a five piece pop-punk band who are about to release their third studio album, ‘Composure’, out July 13th via Fearless Records/Caroline Australia. Real Friends is vocalist Dan Lambton, guitarists Dave Knox and Eric Haines, bassist Kyle Fasel and drummer Brian Blake. Since their inception in 2010, Real Friends have fast become favourites and heavyweights in the pop-punk scene who have sold out dates in the United States and in Australia and have had tracks in the Billboard Top 200.
Me First is track one and it opens with Lambton’s vocals and a single guitar for the first ten seconds before the rest of the instruments come in. “Why don’t you put me first for once?” dominates the chorus while the rest of the lyrics throughout the track are about feeling put down and supressed by one’s other half. It’s a typical selfish love song that’s come to be expected by bands in the pop punk genre. Overall it’s a great track musically, and a good song to start the album on.
Next up is Stand Steady, and the cohesiveness between Knox and Haines really shines through, as well as Fasel and Blake showing off their rhythm section skills. Collectively, the band works really well together in this track and are a perfect backing track for Lambton’s gravelly vocals. This perhaps would have worked well as an opener, but also fits well in the track two position.
From The Outside is track three and was the first single released for the album when it was announced on June 4th. It’s obvious from the beginning of track why it was chosen to be the leading single as it really pushes the direction Real Friends are taking musically with this album. It’s a really good ‘feel good’ track that is a hit made for the summer, for head banging and bopping along while you play, stream or watch it.
Track four is Smiling On The Surface and it’s the first track on the album to start with the vocals, before the instruments kick in. Musically, it’s one of the slower tracks of the first half of the album while still keeping a rock beat. Lyrically it’s up to the listeners interpretation but what I took from it was that Lambton is talking about how he hides his true emotions behind a smile, something that arguably a lot of people do but never admit to.
Hear What You Want is next up and Blake’s skill and talent really shows through on this one. The drums form the backbone to many songs, and this one is no exception. The bass line in this track is also quite impressive and Fasel gets a few chances to show off his repertoire of skills. One of the highlights on the album for me and definitely stands out!
The second single from the album Unconditional Love is next up and it’s the first real slow, ballad type song on the record. Lambton really shows off his quite impressive vocal skills on this one, with his deeper vocals being shown off in the verses, and his higher range being showcased in the choruses. It’s a track that’s really going to go off in a live sense and it was a great track to be released as a single. As it’s buried in the second half of the record it may not have gotten the love and appreciation it deserves if not released as a single.
Title track Composure comes next and musically it’s a real throwback to early pop punk bands like All Time Low, New Found Glory and Blink-182, while also being in the new breed of pop punk bands like State Champs. It’s a really great drums and guitars track with the vocals supporting the music, rather than the other way around. A relatively easy chorus that will be very crowd inclusive when this track is performed live.
Get By is track eight and it’s a really fun upbeat track musically that maybe hides a little bit of darkness in the lyrical content. It’s a bit different than the rest of the album in turns of tempo and vocals, but it’s delivered in a really refreshing way. Another highlight of this album in my opinion and really well placed.
Second to last on the album is Ripcord, which keeps up the upbeat musical pace of the previous track and ties in really well with the rest of the songs on the album. It’s one of the more rockier songs on the album and potentially deserves a higher spot in the track listing, but also works really well placed where it is. Fasel again gets a chance to show off his bass skills towards the second part of this track, and it’s really refreshing to see bass featured so heavily.
Finally we come to Take A Hint, and musically it’s a really good combination of pop punk and rock and has a really positive message in the vocal. It’s also the shortest track on the album at just under three minutes but it’s also the perfect song to end the record on,
Overall, the album is full of things that fans have come to expect from the Illinois quintet, while also showing off a few things that they won’t. Whether you’re a Real Friends fan, or just a casual music listener, there is a little bit of everything on this album and you’re guaranteed to find something about it that you like.
Pre-order your copy of ‘Composure’, out on July 13th via Fearless Records/Caroline Australia HERE!