Arriving on a wave of icy synths and hyperbole, ‘You Are Someone Else’ is the highly anticipated debut from Fickle Friends and finds the Brighton-based quintet awash in button-bright textures and unashamedly pop production. But while the sugar-sweet indie-pop might well be moreish in smaller servings, the 16 tracks on offer here feel overindulgent, especially on consecutive listens.
I wanted to love this record. I really did. It’s upbeat and optimistic in the face of universally-felt anxieties, while at the same time being completely and utterly danceable; never getting weighed down by its narratives. Instead, it’s the unapologetic length of the album, coupled with the polished-to-a-gleam production that hampers the record.
Coming across like a more frenetic, less anthemic CHVRCHES, early tracks such as ‘Glue’ or ‘Swim’ throb with early promises, but as ‘You Are Someone Else’ rolls in to its middle third, the urge to reach for the skip button becomes almost impossible to resist; the faux-anthemia of ‘Say No More’ could be a Katy Perry B-side, while ‘Rotation’ does little confidence in the record’s final third.
Fortunately, the album’s final five tracks are when things become more interesting. Providing some respite from the otherwise overt electronic elation that populates all of what precedes them, tracks such as ‘Paris’, with its restrained tropi-pop rhythms, or the understated melancholy of ‘Midnight’ all suggest that ‘You Are Someone Else’ could have been something really special. As it stands, though, it’s a record that lets itself down through both overproduction, and overindulgence.
It’s a shame, as the tracks that do stand out are indie-pop gold and though ‘You Are Someone Else’ is certainly a record that canters more than it gallops, those moments of brilliance that come towards the record’s close suggest Fickle Friends could quite easily go on to become indie-pop royalty. They just need to step it up a notch.
Words: Dave Beech
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