Review Summary: Hardcore/Emo band brings better production & more consistency to their dual guitar dueling vocals approach, resulting in a good solid full-length debut, but nothing totally outstanding.
While 'Casually Dressed and Deep in Conversation' is officially listed as Welsh band Funeral For A Friend's debut LP, it almost seems as if it is more an extension of their 7 track compilation EP 'Seven Ways To Scream Your Name'. That is not just because it contains some of the same songs (always a debatable approach to tackling a debut), but also because you can almost hear the thinking behind the gradual progression shown here. That last comment is not necessarily a strong criticism, more a hint that this album is rather predictable in a sense.
In truth, the band's mixture of hardcore, emo and metal sounds a lot more developed on this effort. Production has clearly improved (it needed to), but not to the point where any track sounds too poppy. The good thing which will please early fans of Funeral For A Friend (FFAF) is that for the most part they retain their main strengths, which are the dual guitar attack and dueling clean/screaming vocals. This can be heard right from the get-go with the heavy sounding 'Rookie of the Year'. It's nothing special in truth, but serves as a good 3 minute bridge between releases as such.
Tracks 2-6 pretty much sum up the album in a nutshell and are arguably the 5 best songs here. 'Bullet Theory' sneaks in as my album highlight with its impressively atmospheric guitar intro leading into raspy screaming-like vocals, which serve as a pre-cursor to the grand statement contained within the effectively catchy chorus; "It's only over when we say it is". The 1st single 'Juneau' follows and it is a fan favorite as it contains many of the band's strengths; Bouncy guitar riffs, the aforementioned dueling vocals and sufficient hints of melody. The emo'ish slower breakdown is an arguable sticking point though.
Track 4 'Bend Your Arms To Look Like Wings' is a mini-revelation as it begins slower and then settles in. The improved production here really allows main vocalist Matt Davies to shine on songs such as this, while the ever-present effective guitar-work is also well highlighted. EP closer 'Escape Artists Never Die' makes a return visit here to add an Alternative-Rock touch to the album, while follow-up 'Storytelling' is the poppiest track to be included, especially when it comes to the vocals. Thankfully though, it's predominantly delivered at a good pace with the drumming and guitar-work still being strong enough to remind us what kind of band FFAF are.
While the final 6 tracks here are in no ways awful, it is almost as if the entire album has been heard up until this point. 2nd single 'She Drove Me to Daytime Television' was included on an earlier EP, as had the raspy screaming heavier cut 'Red is the New Black'. 'Moments Forever Faded' & 'Waking Up' are solid but seem incomplete and may have been worth working on for more effective use in the future. Meanwhile, the slow acoustic strings-assisted 'Your Revolution is a Joke' and almost 6 minute piano closer 'Novella' are admittedly something different, but are more growers providing variety than standouts.
On my review of their last release, I basically asked for more consistency and better production on FFAF's debut album. I got that here, yet I still have the feeling of not being as completely satisfied as what I should be. Maybe it is because this album lacks a clear standout track, maybe it is the track ordering, or maybe it is because I still see more potential in the band than what they are delivering. I can't quite put my finger on it unfortunately, but what we are left with here is a good solid debut that shows progression, but is nothing totally outstanding.
Recommended Tracks: Bullet Theory, Storytelling, Bend Your Arms to Look Like Wings & Juneau.