Samantha Urbani and her Brooklyn buddies know how to throw a party
The heyday of new rave in all its MDMA-zing glory may seem about as relevant now as The Enemy plodding out another meat-and-two-veg record (oh, wait…), but you’ve got to admit it was fun. And with the likes of Adele and the rest of what’s been dubbed The New Boring taking pride of place at the top of the charts, what the world’s in severe need of is a band to inject a slice of giddiness into proceedings like Klaxons once did. Enter Friends’ ‘Manifest!’ – the soundtrack to every pissed-up summer party you’ll have this year.
The Brooklyn quintet’s debut is louche, cool, and wickedly and exuberantly playful. Opening gambit ‘Friend Crush’ is just a bassline, some handclap-mirroring drumbeats and the cooing tones of Samantha Urbani. It’s incredibly simple, but incredibly effective. ‘Home’ is all funk-laden bongo rhythms (better than it sounds), and ‘Ideas On Ghosts’ a melancholic take on The Long Blondes’ ‘Century’. None of it reinvents the wheel, but in embracing the merits of immediacy and light-hearted listening pleasure over meticulously thought-out intricacy, it seems fresh.
‘Manifest!’ is back-loaded with the big hitters, so you need faith and tenacity to find the gems. The nonchalant bass swagger of early single ‘I’m His Girl’ is still one of the band’s finest moments, while the closing double-header of ‘Va Fan Gor Du’ and new single ‘Mind Control’ is the album’s crowning glory. The former is a brilliantly ramshackle blitz of street calls and fuck-you girl-power spirit, the latter a funk-laden monster of coy, breathy vocals. ‘Manifest!’ isn’t the most forward-thinking record in the world, sure. But when it comes to fun, would you want some clever-clever try-hards for company or just some pretty brilliant Friends?