Review : Friends - Manifest!
BbcHow trendy is this mixed-gender outfit from Brooklyn? So trendy that they get away with calling themselves Friends, a band name that would sound naff even if it didn't evoke memories of attractive people with 1990s haircuts slurping lattes from oversized mugs.
They're the sort of insouciant posse who apparently "have a reputation for turning live gigs into spontaneous DIY parties (and vice versa)". Thankfully, Friends really earned their hipster stripes with a couple of buzz singles last year. I'm His Girl and Friend Crush both appear here, and though they're highlights, they don't eclipse the rest of this generally impressive debut LP.
The Friends sound is tricky to pin down. There's a lot of bolshy, tropical-sounding percussion snuggling up to rumbling, funky basslines, a potentially scratchy combination that's softened by their pop melodies and girl-groupy backing vocals. Think ESG bumping rumps with Tom Tom Club in a downtown disco while Blondie look on with aloof approval.
However, Manifest! couldn't be mistaken for a mixtape called something like Cool Sounds of NYC: 1980-83. Friends are too fresh and too fond of tossing something unexpected into the broth. There's a 1990s RnB feel to the melody of I'm His Girl, while A Thing Like This has a hook that recalls The Jackson 5. Other tracks nick tricks from New Order, Pretenders and Yeah Yeah Yeahs....full text
GuardianTwo effervescent singles last year – Friend Crush and I'm His Girl started the chatter about the Brooklyn five-piece Friends. With strikingly "cool" videos and sleeve art, married to a pick'n'mix approach to New York's musical history – some girl group here, some early hip-hop there, some punk-funk round the corner – they seemed like nothing so much as a tumblr account given musical form. The highlights of their first album, sadly, are still those two singles, and there are some missteps here. The reverb-heavy, lo-fi production deadens things, and – as is ever the case with indie rhythm sections – the funk is as approximate as it is charming. Still, in Ideas on Ghosts and Va Fan Gör Du, they show they can hit the target. The former would have been ruined with a big production, reduced to icy bluster – instead its waves of synths are softened and mellowed. There are summer indie-disco hits here, for sure; there's enough to hint there might be more than that....full text
MusicomhBrooklyn five-piece Friends are a girl-fronted indie pop group formed after lead singer Samantha Urbani began recording songs on her computer, which she then sent to friends Matthew Molnar (keyboards, percussion) and Nikki Shapiro (guitar). The quintet was completed when two more Urbani’s friends - Lesley Hann (bass) and Oliver Duncan (drums) - had to stay at her apartment to, of all things, escape a bedbug infestation.
The quintet began jamming under the name of Perpetual Crush and threw themselves into practice shortly afterwards, playing a few shows in Urbani’s old back yard. It’s easy to see why the band settled on the moniker of Friends, even if a certain sitcom of the same name means searching for them on Google often leads to pictures of Ross and Rachel popping up. The dynamic of the band undoubtedly suits their name, in fact Hann has been friends with Urbani since the second grade. But has their debut LP, entitled Manifest!, lived up to the hype that saw Friends make the BBC Sound Of 2012 list?
The album starts off strongly with single Friend Crush leading the way with its repetitive drum beat, shimmering keys and rumbling bass. Urbani’s effortless sultry vocal perfectly fits the relaxing sound of the song, as she sings: “I wanna be your friend/I wanna ask your advice on a week day/ I wana plan something nice for the weekend.” It’s followed by the airy and tropical sounds of Sorry, with Hann’s bass chugging away as chants of ‘ohh’ and ‘ahh’ add to the quirky little tune....full text
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