Review Summary: "If I was to be stranded on a desert island in the middle of the Atlantic and was only allowed one FFAF album this wouldn’t be the one that I would choose to keep; but the one that would be put out to sea."
It wasn’t all that long ago that Funeral for a Friend were playing the underground circuit of the UK. They have certainly come a long way from there. This, their third album, coincides with a tour of their native isle that sees them play some of the largest venues in the country including London’s Brixton Academy and Manchester’s Apollo Theatre amongst others. Each of their albums has seen FFAF evolve further: their 2003 debut-‘Casually Dressed and Deep in Conversation
’ had a more post-hardcore sound; 2nd album ‘Hours
’ still had the hardcore leanings of ‘Casually Dressed …
’, but ultimately was a more polished effort than its predecessor. ‘Tales Don’t Tell Themselves
’ sees FFAF apply yet another layer of polish to their sound and the result is a solid, digestible rock album that despite being maybe not as strong as previous releases, is still a fairly good album in it’s own right.
The album begins with new single ‘Into Oblivion (Reunion)
’, which after a short atmospheric, orchestral introduction (which actually sounds not too dissimilar to music you’re likely to hear before the news) gives way to an upbeat guitar solo of sorts. The solo is then imitated by Matt’s vocals later on in the track; but before that we have two verses and choruses, which sound just epic! Although it is a very strong start to the album, one major weakness of the album in general is already clear; and that is there is nowhere near as much going on in their music as on previous albums. This weakness is displayed across the album, with all the songs sounding like simpler and watered-down versions of older FFAF songs. Although this will understandably displease a fair amount of their fan base, many new fans will enjoy the (popular) rock stylings of tracks such as ‘The Diary
’ and ‘The Great Wide Open
Although the vast majority of the album is disappointingly mediocre, there is the occasional strong track. In the middle of the album is a ‘two-part’ song, although to be honest they sound more like two separate songs, and the first part here is one of the best on the album. ‘Raise The Sail
’ is still for the most part a standard rock song, but is far better than most of the songs on the album. It incorporates orchestral backing in the bridge section which makes it standout, and is generally a good, fast, upbeat song. It starts out with ‘sea-chanteyish’ vocals which displays the main lyrical theme of the album, and that is frontman Matt Davies’ fear of the ocean, and water in general. However, what is disappointing for an album about ‘fear’ written by what is ultimately a ‘post-hardcore’ band, is that the vocals aren’t dynamic enough for a genre that, at times, can be very passionate. The screams of Funeral’s past are gone, and it is very noticeable as the music doesn’t sound anywhere near as powerful as it once did. However, tracks such as ‘Out of Reach
’ proves that screamed vocals aren’t required to make a good, powerful song, as it is by far one of the strongest songs here.
Generally the album is very monophonic, in that most songs are of similar paces and same ‘heaviness/mellowness’. ‘One For The Road
’ is the first slow song on the album. It is ‘Tales Don’t Tell Themselves’ History
off of ‘Hours’ if you will. This really says it all, as it just doesn’t match up at all. In fact it doesn’t come close. That’s not to say that it is a bad song, but it just doesn’t really leave much impression whatsoever. This can be said for much of the album. Aside from standout tracks such as ‘Into Oblivion (Reunion)
’ and ‘Out of Reach
’ the album as a whole is pretty unimpressive.
Despite this fairly big moan, the album ends fairly strongly with ‘Walk Away
’ and ‘The Sweetest Wave
’. ‘Walk Away
’ is one of the more dynamic songs on the album with its quiet verse/loud chorus. It is made particularly interesting by the little piano melody in the chorus. The album ends with the slow moving ‘The Sweetest Wave
’. It is generally very quiet with orchestral instruments and piano backing only in the verse. It speeds up in the last chorus ensuring that it didn’t just all build up to nothing. The final two songs end, what overall is a disappointing album, on a positive note.
‘Tales Don’t Tell Themselves
’ is likely to gain more fans simply because it is more accessible than anything they have put out before. As well as picking up new fans, the band should maintain the majority of their already huge fan base. Despite the musical change ‘ TDTT
’ shouldn’t alienate too many as it is still a good enough album to satisfy some fans. However, it is arguably FFAF’s weakest album to date as when compared to older Funeral For A Friend albums it is very generic indeed. If I was to be stranded on a desert island in the middle of the Atlantic and was only allowed one FFAF album this wouldn’t be the one that I would choose to keep; but the one that would be put out to sea.