Since 2016's The Home Inside My Head, Illinois sad boys Real Friends have been relatively quiet, with only a few snippets of new music reaching the surface in recent months. However, their dry spell is coming to an end, with upcoming release Composure (8) reinforcing those pop punk stereotypes we have so dearly missed.
'Me First' is a quintessential opening track, counterbalancing frontman Dan Lambton's aggressive vocals with soft bouncy riffs throughout. Their message is simple, and reignites emotions of heartbreak and belonging that we've all dealt with before.
Recently released single 'From The Outside' is the perfect oxymoron; tackling deeply troubling issues with soft poppy riffs to ignite an uncomfortable yet familiar feeling in all of us who listen. This single highlights a poppier side of Real Friends that hadn't previously been exposed in past releases. This softer feel spans the majority of the album, especially with singles like the title track highlighting a lack of teenage angst that we heard on EP Put Yourself Back Together. However, the message is still loud and clear, love sucks.
'Get By' encompasses a teenage coming of age – Lambton's thought provoking lyrics seamlessly blend into a more mature sound. This is also extremely apparent in 'Unconditional Love'; seemingly frustrated lyrics paired with a darker tone.
Lambton's vocals are on point throughout this album, ranging from soft whispers to uncontrollable anger within seconds of each other. His unapologetic approach to depression and anxiety is incredibly valiant, emphasising the importance of speaking out in any situation.
Whilst this album takes a much poppier route, it still holds all the connotations of heartbreak and upset that we have grown so fond of. Losing the teenage angst has noticeably matured the band as a whole, whilst staying as grounded as before. This album has proven to be an exemplary piece of work – a real coming of age that these guys should be proud of.