Review Summary: Bony knees are growing old
If I may, I’d like to pose a question that’s been on the minds of one side of Real Friends’ divided fanbase regarding Put Yourself Back Together
: what the hell happened? The EP essentially takes the group’s stellar release Everyone That Dragged You Here
and dumbs down the vibrant pop-punk sound present there, while keeping with exactly what worked in the lyrics department. Focusing in on the lyrics for a moment, they’re unfortunately just about as formulaic as they come. Maybe I’m being a bit cynical, but if vocalist Dan Lambton is so broken after a toxic relationship with an unnamed person, there are more constructive ways to get rid of the angst than yelling about said person on every fu
cking track on the EP. The lyrical content, unsurprisingly, begins to grate about halfway through the first listen. What’s more, the phrase “bony knees,” already starting to wear thin from repeated use, is utilized on no fewer than three different choruses in three different songs over the course of the release.
Combined with the cookie-cutter music, the lyrics fall even flatter. It would be one thing if the band could pull an Everyone That Dragged You Here
again - that is, interesting structures, upbeat and catchy music, and a variegated sound that never really gets old. However, the vocals don’t fit over the rest of the music as well as they have in the past, and end up detracting from instead of complementing the guitars and drums. Also, while every song on Everyone That Dragged You Here
was memorable, all seven songs on Put Yourself Back Together
blend into each other, save for the excellent “Dirty Water,” the one song which takes a lesson from what worked in “Home For Fall” without sounding too much like a carbon copy. Sure, everything here is upbeat and can be construed as “fun,” but that alone can’t do much for the health of the release.
So, re-posing my earlier question: what the hell happened? Real Friends proved they could make an exhilarating 15 minutes worth of music with Everyone That Dragged You Here
. However, everything on Put Yourself Back Together
is derivative, cookie-cutter, and two-dimensional. There are so many possible answers to what went wrong. The band could be still hung up on a relationship that ended badly, so much that they can’t write anything about something else. They could have gotten lucky with their previous work, akin to countless artists in the industry, and were unable to replicate their success. They could have just made a colossal misstep, one they will hopefully rectify with their next release. Or, the most terrifying possibility, the band may have gotten lazy. They might have seen something that worked to the umpteenth degree and decided to continue on with that, knowing full well that many of their fans would soak it all in as if it were sliced bread. And, judging by the group’s divided fanbase, the last option might not be too far from the truth.