Friendly Fires' Inflorescent: What You Need To Know
When Friendly Fires decided in 2014 to put the band on hiatus, for many of their fans it wasn't just a case wondering when they'd be back. By that point it has been three years since the release of their sophomore album Pala, and it really wasn't clear whether the band would return at all.
But return they have and, eight years on from the release of their second full-length effort, Friendly Fires are back with album No. 3, Inflorescent. Here's everything you need to know...
A little background...
In the year that followed Pala's release, frontman Ed Macfarlane stated that the band had no intention of creating another record in the same vein, also revealing that they had been working on more experimental material with legendary DJ and producer Andrew Weatherall, who many years earlier had helped Primal Scream craft their era-defining 1991 album Screamadelica.
At least some of the fruits of their collaboration emerged in 2014 under the banner of Weatherall vehicle The Asphodells. Macfarlane and guitarist Edd Gibson then embarked on another project with The Advisory Circle's Jon Brooks, which emerged in 2016 under the name The Pattern Forms.
All of which left very little time for Friendly Fires, so it came as something of a surprise when the band suddenly returned with a new single in April last year, along with the news they'd signed to Polydor and were working on a follow-up to Pala.
Who's producing it?
Mark Ralph, James Ford and Disclosure all contribute to the production on Inflorescent, along with the band themselves.
Any special guests?
Nope, it's pretty much just the band on their own here.
What does it sound like?
Given the more expansive, electronic nature of the music produced by the band's various side projects since Palo's release, fans could have been forgiven for wondering what exactly a new Friendly Fires album might sound like. But despite Macfarlane's previous assertions that they didn't want to make another Pala, lead single 'Love Like Waves' finds the band in familiar territory, and it's hardly a red herring as far as the rest of the album is concerned.
If anything, Inflorescent sounds like a purified and filtered version of what they were doing last time out. Songs like 'Silhouette' and 'Run the Wild Flowers' have the same infectious, tropical disco vibe that populated much of the new album's predecessor, and it certainly doesn't sound like a band that has been away for eight years.
That said, this is by no means a do-over of their last album, far from it. Charlie B's 'Lack of Love' is a curious choice of cover version, but one that works surprisingly well and indicates the band's direction of travel from indie-dance punks toward something approaching all-out house music.
Does it deliver?
Whether it's down to the influence of producers like James Ford, Mark Ralph and the Disclosure boys, or the time that Macfarlane and co. have reportedly spent reconnecting with the musical influences they first bonded over and dancing in clubs together again, Friendly Fires have returned to the fray with an album that feels like a much more focussed version of their trademark sound.
At just 11 tracks, Inflorescent is lean, slick and very, very danceable. It might just be their best yet.