It’s honestly always been a struggle listening to Real Friends because I’ve wanted to listen to them for years, but they never really offered me anything that was at a level I could enjoy. The band’s last effort, The Home Inside My Head, was a bit more bearable than their first (which I’ve learned is a very unpopular opinion). “Colder Quicker” – at the time – was lightyears ahead of anything I’ve heard from them prior. And now, at the band’s third full-length album, Composure, we are engulfed in what is the band’s greatest release, both lyrically and musically.
From a genre standpoint, the album is phenomenal. With the help of producer Mike Green (All Time Low, Paramore), it seems like we’re seeing new heights from the band. Most know Real Friends for their raw, emotional, profound lyrics. Composure focuses in on vocalist Dan Lambton’s highest energy through the midst of his diagnosis with bipolar; each track tells a story from his point of view in another mental health trek. For instance, the very first track: “Me First” is an undeniably perfect song. I’m most impressed by the song’s breakdown which is filled with raw emotion. And without slowing down, the band swings right into “Stand Steady” – an equally, if not more, powerful and cathartic track. The intertwined guitar layers threaded into these two songs are very impressive.
Tracks like “From the Outside” and “Hearing What You Want” fill the band’s pop voids. A lot of Composure is moderately more heavy than previous Real Friends material. So songs like “Unconditional Love” sometimes come off as surprising. The change in tempo mixed with the opening guitar tones reminding of the 1975 were among the biggest surprises.
The title track, “Composure,” might be my favorite track from the album; the track is a very well-written, insightful summary to what the album is. It’s definitely the most descriptive the band has to offer (“Life unfolding like the plot of a movie; not the version that everyone sees”).
My two letdowns were the lack of content, which I understand that bands should always prioritize quality over quantity. However, this album has zero filler songs – HUGE! I would appreciate more tracks, but this album works as it is. But we’re only really getting nine new songs since “Get By” has been out for awhile now. A good song nonetheless, the band has really outdone themselves.
Composure is Real Friends’ collection of their greatest material yet. It’s an album that deals with grief, mental health, being accepted, and learning to love yourself; an album most enjoyed by nearly everyone.