Reviews

Friendly Fires
Inflorescent

(Polydor)

5/10

The new Friendly Fires album is fine. It’s just fine, and that’s all there is to it. No individual song here is bad. They’re as easy to hear without listening to as an air conditioner or a car rolling down a quiet street, and are just as easily forgotten. What else is there to say?

That the hook on ‘Offline’ is catchy, and that Disclosure collab ‘Heaven Let Me In’ sounds like 2009 in the best possible way? Sure, why not. It also helps that the album is so rammed with big pop hooks that the CD should bulge at the edges. In an era when pop seems dominated by artists warring over who’s edgiest, there’s something charmingly innocent about music that just wants to be fun and catchy.

What I don’t understand is – why now? Friendly Fires already made two albums’ worth of songs that just wanted to be catchy in those confused years between peak indie and peak trap. There just aren’t enough new ideas on Inflorescent to justify the group’s comeback. Much of the record treads the same ground that Friendly Fires didn’t break in the late noughties, and that’s difficult to excuse ten years on from their debut.

It doesn’t help that the group are moving toward more traditional club influences when acts like Private Agenda, Georgia and Jayda G are making more inventive and exciting music from the same starting point. Why settle for the dully plastic approximation of Kaytranada on ‘Sleeptalking’ when you can just listen to Kaytranada? It feels vaguely insulting to their fans, some of whom have waited eight years for new material, to hand them an album so devoid of new ideas.

This is definitely overthinking the role of indie-pop in 2019, but not only do fans deserve better than Inflorescent, they already have access to a near-infinite amount of it. There just isn’t any need for this tediously okay album. It’s only really acceptable as a soundtrack for the kind of bleak pre-drinks where someone leaves the big light on.

Support Loud And Quiet from £3 per month and we'll post you our next 9 magazines

As all of us are constantly reminded, it’s getting harder for independent publishers to stay in business, which applies to Loud And Quiet more now than ever, 14 years after we first started printing a magazine that we’ve always given away for free.

Having thought about the best way to support our running costs (the printing and distribution fees, the podcast and production costs etc.) we’d like to ask our readers who really enjoy what we do to subscribe to our next 9 issues over the next 12 months. The cheapest we can afford to do this for works out at £3 per month for UK subscribers, charged yearly.

If that seems like a bit of a punt, you can pay-as-you-go for £4 per month and cancel any time you like. European and world plans are available too, at the lowest rate we can afford.

It’s not just a donation – you’ll receive a physical copy of our magazine through your door and some extra perks detailed on our subscribe page. Digital subscriptions are available worldwide for £15 per year. We hope you consider this a good deal and the best way to keep Loud And Quiet in your life without its content, independence or existence suffering.