REVIEW: Real Friends – ‘Maybe This Place Is The Same And We’re Just Changing’

real friends

Artist: Real Friends
Album: Maybe This Place Is The Same And We’re Just Changing
Genre: Pop-Punk
Label: Fearless Records

“Easy on the eyes, heavy on the heart.”

Real Friends‘ lead singer, Dan Lambton, perfectly describes their new record with their own lyrics. Maybe This Place Is The Same And We’re Just Changing channels so much of their previous material, so much so that I wouldn’t have been surprised if they threw in a line or two about sleepy eyes and boney knees. This did not happen, thankfully, although I must admit it almost felt fragmentary.

Going into this record with an awful lot of expectations (even with the knowledge of them writing it in under a year with a new label) was probably a bad call on my part. The record starts off with title track, “Maybe This Place Is…,” and aside from the solid instrumentals, the melodies almost felt dull and too familiar. I found it quite difficult to pay attention to the lyrics for reasons beyond my own understanding. “Cover You Up” came up stronger and redeemed the first couple of songs. Lyrically and instrumentally striking in a lovely manner, “Old Book” was about four minutes too short. This song could have gone on for another verse or two and would not have anyone complaining. The word “bones” was thrown in there, too, so there’s that.

Tugging teenage heartstrings, “Sixteen” was this record’s “I’ve Given Up On You.” Coming out of the last song into this song’s first strum sparked a strong sense of hopefulness for the rest of the record. This track was definitely my favorite and I imagine it to be a lot of other people’s, too.

Channeling their innate American Football, “To My Old Self” was another favorite as this track felt most sincere and substantial both lyrically and melodically. No pop-punk record is complete without the hometown love-hate, hence “Spread Me All Over Illinois.” The last line, “Did I get left behind or is everybody else hiding that they’re lost?” was definitely my favorite part.

A solid outro is paramount to a record’s success. The recency effect states that the last thing one hears is almost always what they remember vividly. The record ends abruptly. No buildup to a big chorus, no choral harmonies, no melodious grunting and yelling; just the title over and over, a drumbeat, and a newly acquired “…that’s it?” void waiting to be filled by potential B-sides and acoustic tracks. I can envision the acoustic version of most of these songs to be much more appealing. This record may grow on you, or its first impression may remain, but it’s going to take time.

Though the multiple redeeming qualities such as the apposite lyrical manifestos and the arguably genuine emotional downpour prove prominent, this record was “easy on the eyes” because it was much anticipated by fans all over the globe and pre-order sales were probably impeccable. Maybe This Place Is The Same is “heavy on the heart” because it felt like a deluxe version of Put Yourself Back Together, with matching weather references and melodies. An emotional connection was not prompted as much as it should have been, and as a Real Friends fan, it saddens me to say so. I remain hopeful for the band’s future, though, because having watched them grow from a basement act to a Fearless talent, it is with utmost confidence when I say that this band is going somewhere great.

SCORE: 6/10
Review written by Dana Reandelar

Dana Reandelar

If not hunched over her desk writing about music, Dana can be found binge-watching old episodes of Gilmore Girls or condensing long rants to 140 characters. She also writes for Idobi Radio, and is an Off The Record podcast contributor.
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