Album Review: Real Friends: The Home Inside My Head

Living up to expectations people place upon you is a hard thing for anyone, so imagine the pressure that was laid upon Illinois pop punk outlet Real Friends with their debut album, Maybe This Place Is the Same and We’re Just Changing in 2014. From being included to a multitude of most anticipated lists and the constant badgering from fans, the release had a lot to live up to — and it ultimately did. The album sold extremely well and charted at number 24 on the Billboard 200 while a multitude of singles were nominated for awards and included in year end lists. With such high expectations met, that only meant even higher ones for the next album. Fast forward to 2016 and we’re about to see the next release from the group with The Home Inside My Head. With sophomore albums being so hit or miss and the pivotal point of progression in musicality and identity, the hope from fans is that they hit another one out of the park. The question that needs immediate answering — where do they fall with their sophomore release?

As a standalone record and equally as a sophomore one, The Home Inside My Head is a huge step forward for the band. While it has initial elements of familiarity which reassures they haven’t completely abandoned their roots, the band manages to deliver a more evolved and mature sound, both sonically and lyrically. In the past, Real Friends have approached a subject matter that dealt almost exclusively with pain and loss. This time around, they have pursued more positive themes that don’t dwell on the loss and hopelessness aspects of life, but ones that talk about moving on. That isn’t to say they have completely ditched their emo roots as tracks like “Keep Lying to Me”, “Scared To Be Alone” and “Eastwick” are reminiscent of their earlier material.

Real Friends – Mokena

ITUNES: Taken from the new album ‘The Home Inside My Head’ available now. Video by Sam Halleen. Stay connected:

From the perspective of instrumentation, the band have stepped it up quite remarkably. Utilizing more memorable and catchier riffs, guitarists Eric Haines and Dave Knox let their talent shine throughout the entirety of the album. This is showcased most admirably on the faster paced tracks, “Door Without a Key” and “Keep Lying to Me”. Brian Blake’s drumming is better than ever and helps carry the musicality contained with the album forward. Vocally, Dan Lambton offers a similar range and style found on previous material so fans who are familiar have no need to fret. To offset the lack of changes, a continued strong vocal presence and delivery persists throughout and helps Lambton show off some of the bands catchiest choruses yet. Furthermore, one of his greatest strengths is the emotion and passion that is on display when he sings as showcased on tracks like “Empty Picture Frames” and “Stay In One Place”.

Comparing it to such a successful debut is a hard thing to do, but after several listens it feels as if there are very few things The Home Inside My Head doesn’t improve on in comparison. While it can be stated that many of the familiar Real Friends elements are still present, they ultimately raised the bar enough to deliver a more cohesive and well rounded sound. Making more approachable music from a lyrical standpoint while ratcheting up the instrumentation that drives the music, this is an album that is not only catchier, but more emotionally charge and lyrically diverse. This is a release that should attract new fans with its progression while retaining old ones with its maturity and assuredly, that is what any artist strives to do with their next project. Be sure to pick up The Home Inside My Head


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