NYC Stagnancy. Friends, Manifest!

Whether it be the stale typographic stylisation of their unexplainably underused moniker or the gratuitous exclamation mark tacked onto the name of the debut full-length, Brooklynites Friends seem all too finely attuned to that which they're up to. The explicitly pertinent question, therefore, is how well are they workin' it?

The prompt response to such rhetoric is fairly noncommittal. Even regarding the singles previously thrust in our general, tech-savvy direction Manifest! is a distinctly mixed bag Рif one bulging with Lesley Hann's bass: there's great stuff (I'm His Girl); beastly stuff (Mind Control); sincerely unpleasant stuff (Friend Crush) although where this trio really falter is in their blas̩ but fundamentally dull alt.pop swing. Thus where the quintet flourish is when they mix a lil' '90s R'n'B sensuality into things: the leaden groove to A Thing Like This sinks straight down to your hips, inducing involuntary and irrefutably preposterous pelvic thrusting whilst the parodical, practically Disney-esque ethnics of Home Рthe track most illustrative of Samantha Urbani's actively impressive vocals Рare pretty snug, if somewhat uninspired. But elsewhere Urbani et al. provide a manifestation of tedium: whether that be the vapid, Vampire Weekend-indebted Sorry or the shoddy Sugababes-were-whichever-three-produced-by-Jamie xx flump of A Light, Manifest! is a mess.

Ideas On Ghosts comes across as a mercifully never materialised collaboration between The Human League, Chris Rea and Annie bloody Lennox nobody ever even so much as aspired to experience, whilst the lacklustre shunning of some "boring guy" on Ruins is worse yet. Proud/Ashamed is slightly stronger although it feels as though it'd be all but implausible for the band to come down on anything but the latter side of the slash. Nothin' but a manifestation of NYC stagnancy.

Jamie Holloway.