Maybe This Place Is The Same And We’re Just Changing
Real Friends’ greatest asset is their capacity for evoking poignant nostalgia in both their music and lyrics. Tapping a similar vein to the Ataris at their Blues Skies, Broken Hearts…Next 12 Exits best, as well as the Get Up Kids and the Starting Line’s earlier works, the Midwestern quintet pen songs that emphasize simplicity, raw emotion and instant, engaging hooks. Their first full-length following a string of EPs, Maybe This Place Is The Same And We're Just Changing captures a band coming into their own, unafraid to wear their proverbial hearts on their sleeves while deftly avoiding lapsing into cloying sentimentality or cliché.
Whether listened to through headphones late at night, blasted on a car stereo or experienced within a sweaty throng at one of their shows, the songs deliver, drawing as many smiles as pangs of heartache. The lively “I Don’t Love You Anymore,” “Loose Ends” and “Cover You Up” bleed energy as they race at you, the scrappy guitar sound conveying an urgent, live feel that bolsters the sincerity behind the songs. The 1:39 “Short Song” boasts a crescendo that is almost ridiculously rousing, but no matter how “big” the songs get, there remains a vulnerability that is sublime. The slower, more introspective crawl of “Sixteen” pushes this to the forefront, vocalist Dan Lambton crying out from across the room, though he never sounds more desperate than on “To: My Old Self”, screaming himself nearly hoarse on its pained climax. Bassist Kyle Fasel's lyrics—at times tainted with regret, at others optimistic and full of hope—do not cover any subjects or themes that have not been touched upon by an almost neverending army of emo bands. This is not to say he is just covering well-trodden ground; everything he writes imbued with honesty and a sense of intimacy that cannot be faked.
As the delicate coda of closer “…And We’re Just Changing” fades, it is hard to shake off the aforementioned nostalgia, evoking the time spent transitioning from youth into adulthood with grace and affection. It is the kind of record you know you will come back to in years to come and find the same feelings stirred up. Whether you’re going through that transitory period or have long since passed that juncture, the feelings are the same, and Real Friends embrace this with open arms.