The Fridays – ‘No One Realizes This Is Nowhere’ review: ’90s pop culture nostalgia from Malaysian six-piece

The Fridays drop the jangly indie pop sounds of their 2015 debut but stay every bit as nostalgic

The Fridays are really in love with nostalgia. On their 2015 debut record ‘Verklempt’, the Malaysian six-piece paid faithful homage to the classic jangly indie pop sounds of Sarah Records artist of the ’90s such as Another Sunny Day and Heavenly. On ‘No One Realizes This Is Nowhere’, they’ve veered off a little more to the west to embrace the universe of ’90s young Americana instead.

The Fridays have weaved together a record filled with compelling tales of heartbreak, teenage indolence and youthful candour. All this is framed against the backdrop of high school proms, cheerleading squads, and summer flings, ’90s pop culture references such as American Pie and Sega Mega Drive name-dropped along the way.

The sound draws heavily from modern rock from that era as well. Though the opener ‘Constellation’ teases a return to the gentler sounds of The Fridays’ debut, following track ‘In The Wilderness The Bear Does Not Reply Text Messages’ reveals the bait and switch. An alt-punk gem, it starts out harmlessly with a feel-good pop punk verse channeling Coyote Shivers that quickly escalates into an old school hardcore chorus and culminates in screaming guitar solos and a sample of Ted Kennedy’s “The dream shall never die” speech. And thus the old Fridays and their former British jangly pop sound were felled in a single, brutal swoop.

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On ‘No One Realizes This Is Nowhere’, The Fridays shoot a little more from the hip creatively, allowing each song to take on a unique life of its own. The jaunty ska punk on ‘Disneyland (It’s All Happening)’ and the tapping guitar solo on ‘(There’s No Clean) Underwear’ sound like they belong on different records, giving the album the feel of a soundtrack where different sounds are brought together in service of a larger narrative. Which makes sense, as vocalist Acap F has told NME that The Fridays’ writing process on this record involved imagining each track within the context of scenes from his favourite films.

That’s a process most evident on the record’s crowning pop moment ‘Planking Without Passion Looks So Dumb’, a track that take huge cues from Gin Blossoms to create one of the region’s feel-good anthems of the year. Acap said he imagined the track accompanying a scene in “a make-believe Molly Ringwald film, where the protagonist of the song is confessing his feelings to her seconds before she boards a plane” and he’s telling her that “there’s no more time for complications / Smile, unpack and stay”. We’ve all seen that scene before and yes, the song is perfect for it.

If there is one blemish is that in the band’s quest to chase down such a sonically and conceptually widescreen approach, they’ve sacrificed some of the lo-fi charm that made their debut so likeable. ‘No One Realizes This Is Nowhere’ was written over the course of the last five years, and as such largely ignores the changing zeitgeist of the last 18 months. Instead it dips into the cultural references of The Fridays’ youth, namely American teen movies and popular culture. It’s a welcome shift away from the prevailing doom and gloom all around us, carving out a nice slice of nostalgia for listeners to jump happily back into.

Details

The Fridays Malaysia band No One Realizes This Is Nowhere album review
  • Release date: July 31
  • Record label: Absolutely Behaved Production
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