Among the cache of rising young artists bringing wistful indie pop out of the 1980s and into the late 2010s (Shura, MUNA, and more) stand Brighton quintet Fickle Friends. After two years touring without a label, 2018 has now seen the release of the group’s highly anticipated debut record, You Are Someone Else. Having accumulated an impressive following with their irresistible indie tracks with each one catchier and more infectious than the last, sonically, the group is as colourful as their album’s sleeve, which is one which promises for a distinctive and remarkable record.
‘Wake Me Up’ is the aptly named album opener which kicks things off perfectly; it’s not surprising the track is a staple for the group’s live gigs. Despite its sparkling, pulsing synth and layered instrumentals, frontwoman Natassja Shiner has explained the song’s lyrics deal with “wanting a relationship to work so bad, but knowing deep down, it’s not going anywhere”. It may have been the last song written for the album, but it’s an explosive and punchy prelude; ‘Glue’ follows up perfectly and shows Fickle Friends know how to hook listeners from the off. For many, this is the track which first caught their attention of the group, yet it’s a song which doesn’t lose its charm. Its blending of the foot-tapping tempo which runs throughout and the intensity of romantic attraction Shiner sings about makes for a song as absorbing as the saturation of the block colours in the track’s music video.
You Are Someone Else doesn’t lose any of its ambition as the group’s (first) and 2014 single ‘Swim’ follows up and maintains the album’s strength so far, proving its worth as a must for fans of Paramore’s After Laughter; incidentally Paramore are the group Shiner would most like to tour with, as divulged in an interview with Exeposé. ‘Bite’ represents the group’s love for the current 80s revival, and echoes some of the decade’s shinier pop numbers before succeeding track and has some of the album’s most experimental instrumentals yet, from its slow-paced thumping bass notes laced throughout to the smooth electronic scales sewn in amongst the chorus lyrics. The record’s most honestly titled track, ‘Hard to Be Myself’ and its follower ‘Say No More’ cement the effortlessly seamless signature Fickle Friends have created; yet for some this could be a few tracks too similar to one another.
a two-minute track which drifts by like a scribbled verse in a notebook
Halfway through the record, ‘Heartbroken’ incorporates some of the album’s boldness into its lyrics, with lines such “you think everything sucks/I really couldn’t give two f**ks” packing a punch and showing Fickle Friends aren’t necessarily as sugary-sweet as their earlier tracks might have you believe. Shiner channels MUNA’s Katie Gavin in the vocally-driven ‘In My Head’ and shows a more vulnerable side on a two-minute track which drifts by like a scribbled verse in a notebook. ‘Rotation’ and ‘Hello Hello’ steer the album back to the familiar sonic of the songs on its first half and support the individualism of Fickle Friends’ songwriting, which at times runs parallel to that of The 1975.
As the album draws to its close, ‘Paris’ and ‘Brooklyn’ carry some of the sharpest and evocative moments heard yet, and their intimacy reflects recurring themes which have been woven throughout such as relationship problems, as heard in the latter repeatedly featuring the album’s title. Penultimate ‘She’ stars another burst of emotional lyrics and a short but sweet chorus, before ‘Useless’ closes the album on a strong note. It’s a record which shows the emotions and anxieties of a young person growing up and navigating their way through the recent years of this decade, and one which will no doubt be of high emotional value to its listeners who find solace in its lyrics upon its release.