Who remembers their very first breakup? I remember being about sixteen years old and feeling like the whole world was going to end, and, throughout my month of self pity, there was one soundtrack always on. At school, while I was driving, while I was sitting in my room wallowing in my alone-ness, Real Friends’ Maybe This Place Is The Same And We’re Just Changing was my best friend. Upon hearing that a band I held so close to my heart was releasing new music, I knew I had to check it out. This time around, Real Friends are making noise with Composure, a collection of songs that will have you singing along in triumph and celebration, with both middle fingers up to the past.
The ten-track album begins with “Me First,” and lead vocalist Dan Lambton is immediately present. I was taken back as he sang, “Why don’t you put me first for once? We might need to slow down, cause I’m not going anywhere.” The ever-so-strong pop punk sound that everyone absolutely loves is in full force by the chorus, with both lead guitarist Dave Knox and drummer Bryan Blake carrying the song along with a ginormous presence. This track was faster-paced, meant to draw listeners in and get them singing along, and Real Friends hit the nail exactly on the head with it.
The fourth song on the record, “Smiling On The Surface” has to be up there as one of my favorites. Bringing tears to my eyes, this one hit home to me. Its backing vocals made it more unique, while the lyrics got me right in the feels (“I’ll keep on smiling on the surface, hiding my nerves behind the curtain / I’m caught up in an empty room, filled with second thoughts and gloom / I’ll keep on smiling on the surface”). This song is the perfect example of taking lyrics that are real and raw and relatable, and pairing them with an instrumental that is more akin to a celebration of those feelings. It’s exciting and it’s refreshing and, again, I’m impressed.
Another highlight of the album is the intro to “Unconditional Love.” Although this song honestly wasn’t my favorite on the record, the guitar that introduces it was enough to catch me by surprise, and I found myself checking what I was listening to as soon as it came on. Other than that, I feel as though this song could be compared to older Real Friends releases. Is that a bad thing? Absolutely not, because older Real Friends is great. But after hearing the first couple of songs, which to me were a ten, this one in particular fell short.
“Get By” is easily another favorite, to the point where I can’t help but feel excited for Real Friends. This track gives us everything pop punk fans love, from the lyrics to the delivery, and I can only imagine how much fun seeing it live will be.
Closing off the record is “Take A Hint.” Was this the best song on Composure? No. Do I think it was the best song to finish the album? Maybe not. Nonetheless, it doesn’t diminish the quality of the album as a whole.
I went into Composure expecting a throwback to my teenage years, and that isn’t what I got, because this record introduces a completely fresh sound. I didn’t think I could be surprised by this band, but here I am, very pleasantly surprised by many of the songs. I’m excited to see the reaction from their fans, and I’m even more excited to hear the album live. All in all, Real Friends’ Composure is definitely going to the top of my Summer 2018 playlist.
WORDS BY EMILY GORDON