The Friday Night Boys – Off The Deep End

fnb_off_the_deep_endArtist: The Friday Night Boys
Album: Off The Deep End
Genre: Pop Rock
Label: Fueled by Ramen

I think I have to deal with the fact that pop rock is not what it use to be and that may simply be a sign I’m getting older. Pop punk or pop rock use to have attitude, but now it seems to be more about innuendo and harmony, which is fine by today’s standards, but weird to me. That said, I do enjoy a hearty amount of it, so don’t go thinking this is bias in any way/shape/or form. I didn’t review the EP from The Friday Night boys that dropped a few months ago, but when I heard they were already releasing their full length, Off The Deep End, I knew it was time I gave them some attention.

Starting off as pop friendly musically as possible, yet lyrically giving us quite a dark picture, “Permanent Heartbreak,” starts off with lines about being passed out in a bathroom and quickly evolves into a harmonious hook/chorus. The music is simple chord work with electronic layers added on, but I think the key to selling this music is in the vocals and there’s a lot of good harmony to be heard here [even if there’s some autotune use]. I know this is the first song on the record, but also the first the band premiered, so it must be the single and I would agree it’s a good choice, but it also sets a bar for the rest of the record and “Stupid Love Letter” doesn’t hold up right off the back. It’s too simple, both musically and lyrically. It’s fine by me to be cute and cuddly sounding, but you’re near or in your 20s, right like it.

“Suicide Sunday,” though a bit melodramatic for my taste, is the first sign of true effort put into songwriting and structure on the record. There’s a lot of real instrumentation and the vocals fit the sound rather than standing out far too obviously. Similarly, “Stuttering” brings the claps out of you without using clap tracks and has a great overall mix of electronics and real instruments that are met with truly catchy vocals. Also, I’m sure they’ll win tween points with the line, “I know I f’d it up.” No, I didn’t censor it.

Now, a key to a pop rock record, especially one that’s heavy on the pop, is the ballad. First up, we have “Finding Me Out” which screams Ryan Cabrera b-side, and not in any form of a good way. It’s such a cliche trainwreck of falsetto chorus and accented lines meant to stress pain. Maybe half a decade ago I would’ve bought this, but not now. Then again, that might be the target age range. The band does do better with the acoustic driven ballad, “Can’t Take That Away.” Actually, this may be the best song on the record The lyrics may be simple, but they’re heartfelt and honest with music that you instantly groove with and love.

The group never really enters questionable sound territory until the last few tracks on the record. “How I Met Your Mother” and onward are much more electro pop based tracks and that’s where I start to lose interest. Granted, that song is quite catchy and good, “Unforget You” and “Sorry I Stole Your Girl” have far too much electronics [including autotune and vocoder] to be of much, if any, acknowledgment. Luckily, between these tracks we’re given the radio ready “The First Time” and “Molly Makeout.” These aren’t the strongest pop rock tracks we’ll hear this year, but well above the average and that’s really what matters.

Looking back on how pop rock has changed in definition, I’m still left feeling a bit old. I mean, some of The Friday Night Boy’s Off The Deep End is completely catchy and approachable, but the electronics and autotune just make me turn my head. As I said, I’m sure that neither myself or most people my age are the target market of this act and there’s good reason for that: We ask for me. Four chords and harmony don’t sell records to 21yr. old kids, but it does to 16/17yr. olds. If I take into account how 17yr. old me would think of this record, I can see the appeal, but I gotta warn you: If you don’t evolve past this sound, you’re not going to last. Good effort boys, keep the party hopping [or prom..or whatever.]

Score: 6.5/10

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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  • Jennifer

    I love this album, popish or not, it really caught my attention. One of the best albums I’ve bought. :)