Back in 2008, Friendly Fires burst out of the U.K. with their excellent disco-dance self-titled debut (QRO review), racking up a prestigious Mercury Prize nomination. 2011’s Pala (QRO review) was good, if pretty similar, but they still had the heat – Kanye was seen at a show of theirs in NYC (QRO photos). Then they disappeared, returning only now, to a disco-dance scene that is a lot more stuffed. While new record Inflorescent has some killer tracks on it, a lot of it seems a bit old hat by today’s standards.
To start with the good, there are some great bopping electro-dance pieces, beginning with opener “Can’t Wait Forever”. “Silhouettes” has the tropical elements that made Friendly Fires so refreshing back when, and yet aren’t overplayed now, while “Almost Midnight” is a great “going in for the kiss” piece. But much of the rest of the album feels straightforward and not as memorable. “Sleeptalking” reminds of Billy Ocean’s eighties classic “Caribbean Queen”, and sounding like an eighties piece that was once considered cheesy, but now classic, is almost commonplace today.
One can’t blame Friendly Fires for having been ahead of their time, and it’s now caught up with them. And they still sound good, if just not revelatory.