Pop Punk gets a bad rap. Tarred with the kiddie brush and knocked off as a phase as well as something you will just grow out of. While it does go down the candyfloss and bubblegum route more than its contemporaries the genre at its best when it toughens itself up or spreads it wings. For every All Time Low or As It Is, there is something as grandly ambitious as The Greatest Generation by The Wonder Years or the stadium conquering heights of Green Day or A Day To Remember. However, Real Friends do not fall into the later camp.
If there is a reason why Pop Punk gets a bad press then Composure, the bands’ third record is a damn good poster child for why the genre is so derided. The album can be a checklist for what has turned Pop Punk into the creative vortex it is today, it is no exaggeration that this album could have been recorded by 70% of modern Pop Punk bands.
It just feels so void of life and safe. Obviously you don’t go into an album like this expecting prog interludes or someone to bust out the harpsichord but some stamp of originality would be a lovely addition at this point. There is the briefest drifts into the punk world when the drums drag the pace into double time, but even when they do they are covered in so much syrup that you feel sticky just listening to it.
The production has just graduated from the John Feldmann school of vapid sameness, like it comes from a You Tube ad you can’t skip (“For just £50 you can make your album sound like every bloody other one”). There are germophobes wet wipes less clean than the production on this album, i’m shocked it doesn’t come with an anti slip warning it’s that polished.
The thing that is probably most frustrating with Real Friends is that the songs are actually decent, there is no All I Want or Fat Lip on here but there is some good quality song writing at work here. Get By is a good song and the album’s title track shows some promise as well with its sparky vocal melody lifting the track from its background of beige.
Pop Punk has been called the most creatively bankrupt genre in rock music and on this occasion this isn’t an exaggeration. Straight from the template and straight onto the photocopier with not an ounce of flavour or personality injected throughout its 32 minute run time. Real Friends are sadly a band on this evidence who won’t be remembered by many, but I would like to see try and give them a fighting chance by ditching the copy and pasted bubblegum scented gloss. They just need to inject a bit of personality into proceedings. In the case that this is their personality, then god speed in your future endeavours.
Composure is out now on Fearless Records.