Review Summary: An injection of pure energy that’s been sorely missed in pop punk for years.
Recently, pop punk has been moving away from its punk roots and leaning more towards pop tendencies. Gone are the furiously strumming guitars, pounding drums, and strained singing that we got to know and love so well on albums like Dookie by Green Day and Cheshire Cat and Dude Ranch by Blink-182. Nowadays, pop punk is dominated by more hook-driven, heavily produced, and instrumentally slower (though still fun) bands, like Paramore, Relient K, Four Year Strong, and what seems like thousands more. While this newer kind of pop punk isn’t bad by any means (hell, American Idiot and Blink-182’s self-titled, even though they deviated from the bands’ original styles, were actually pretty good and critically acclaimed), there’s been a definite lack of the more energetic kind of pop punk as of late. It’s been missed greatly, and the fun of the early ‘90s hasn’t really been present for a long time.
Enter Real Friends and their EP "Everyone that Dragged You Here". From start to finish, the guitars are fast and distorted, the drums are wild, and the vocals sound like a slightly less annoying Tom Delonge from Cheshire Cat-era Blink-182 (which is a good thing). The band’s style is especially apparent on opening track and EP standout “Floorboards”, a 3-and-a-half minute adrenaline rush of fast-paced instruments and high-pitched singing. “Home for Fall”, the other standout on the EP, mixes up the pure vitality of the rest of the songs with some well-placed less aggressive, almost melancholy, distorted guitar strumming while the rest of the band stays quiet. It fits in with the rest of the song (which talks about missing someone who “ran away”) and manages to provide a much-needed change of pace while still moving as quickly and energetically as the other tracks.
The lyrics, like the music, are pretty similar to the classic pop punkers: breaking off relationships with crazy girls who were never worth any time, standing up and flipping off the world when it throws you down, etc. Granted, they’re not groundbreaking or especially poetic, but lead vocalist Dan Lambton isn’t really trying to be incredibly poignant with the lyrics, especially following a style of music where beautiful poetry would be drowned out by the guitars anyway. Plus, the lyrics fit in with the music very well, and any complaints about the words disappear when the instruments are added in.
The one major downside to the EP is that there’s really nothing innovative. While it might have been a good idea for Real Friends not to try to reinvent the wheel, they still come across as somewhat formulaic: all five songs have similar tempos, are in major keys, and are pretty much the same style. Even so, this is an incredibly fun little EP that’s damn near impossible not to enjoy. If you miss the vigor of older pop-punk albums and just want to be able to smile along to a musical rush of energy, then this album is for you.
Recommended tracks: Floorboards, Home for Fall