Released on 1 September 2008 on Moshi Moshi
St Albans is not exactly famous for its musical pedigree, in fact the most interesting things I`ve learned about it are that Spurs play (or used to play) their reserve matches there and that it has more pubs per square mile than anywhere in Britain. But finally local boys Friendly Fires have delivered a puslsating debut that may help put the Hertfordshire city on the map.
Those with curious ears should be no strangers to lead track and recent single `Jump in the Pool` cleverly combines the breathy shoegaze-lite indie rock of the likes of Ride with the quirky afro-influenced indie of Foals. Similarly, last year`s single `Paris` is featured early on sounding every inch as impressive as during those initial radio plays before Christmas.
The only `low` point is the proverbial sore thumb `White Diamonds` ominously has hit single written all over it, well it would if it was currently 2003 and we all shared Kasabian`s belief that chugging glam rock is the way forward. It`s a very good song but it`s holding the album back, unlike the fantastic `On Board` which is a genuine, gigantic step forward with deliberate purpose and an elastic groove that will have all but the long-deceased shaking their moneymakers uncontrollably.
Virtually saving the best to last, `Ex Lover` rekindles the sparks set by `Jump in the Pool` as the album closes with the same punk funk manifesto and the occasional allusion to U2 (no, really, but in a good way). `Friendly Fires` is a massive accomplishment from a band cruelly overlooked by mainstream media and bandwagon-jumping indie kids alike. Whether, fashionably, they may have arrived a little late (it`s all about reverb and Scottish accents now apparently) makes no difference - this is one of the most enjoyable albums of the year.
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