The long-awaited release of Friends’ debut Manifest! can only be considered a good thing, if only for the fact that the swathe of reviews stemming from the album might make searching for them on the internet a bit easier. Ever tried looking for Friends on Facebook?
The five-piece burst into public consciousness last year with the neo-pop funk of monogamy’s worst enemy, 'I'm His Girl'. The track's disco vibe and Brooklyn centric rhythm is remains a high-point on this carnival. Throughout, Manifest! a tropical beat skips on in the background. 'Home' sounds like it could be the perfect accompaniment to a show reel of an all inclusive package holiday to the Caribbean. I'm not sure as to whether that's a good thing or not but the album does its convincing elsewhere.
The hip swaying ‘A Thing Like This’ is a high-water mark, with Samantha Urbani's sultry tones coming to the fore in some breezy R&B tinged swoon pop. 'Ideas On Ghosts' then sees them hit the spot with dreamy post-punk. The distinctive drumming patterns are particularly noticeable in amongst echoing vocals.
In places, you can feel the stifling heat of New York summer streets seep into tracks like ‘A Light’ but it seems contrary for an inner city band to make such beach party friendly anthems as ‘Va Fan Gor Du’.
Those opposing themes run throughout but it takes a brief turn when the band delves off into the scratchy, experimental ‘Ruins’. There's something blissfully demonic about the off kilter bass twangs and tumbling hotchpotch crescendo.
Manifest! pitches dollops of punk and disco from several angles all towards the same idea of sunshine pop. Bookended by the excellent ‘Friend Crush’ and Orwellian funk of ‘Mind Control’, the only minor disappointment with it is that, while there’s plenty to enjoy outside of the singles, the most exciting parts have been released already.