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Real Friends - Maybe This Place is the Same... Album Cover

Real Friends - Maybe This Place is the Same...

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4.8
Real Friends - Maybe This Place is the Same and We're Just Changing
Record Label: Fearless Records
Release Date: July 22, 2014
Before we begin to examine the curious case of Real Friends’ full length debut, Maybe This Place is the Same and We’re Just Changing, you should first be familiar with the few experiences I’ve had with the band. First, sometime last winter, I downloaded their acoustic EP from Bandcamp, mostly because I recognized the name and it was a name-your-price (read: free) download. I enjoyed it for what it was, but only truly listened to it twice (and once while my iTunes was on Shuffle, but to be fair, I was cooking quesidillas at the time). Secondly, I saw the Real Friends open alongside Modern Baseball, Citizen, and Fireworks on The Wonder Years’ Greatest Generation World Tour, and they came off as one of the most unoriginal and insincere live acts I have ever witnessed.

Each song title (“Late Nights in My Car,” “Lost Boys”) and every word from the on-stage gimmicky banter (“We started this band because we had nowhere to go, and now, everyone here who feels the same way has made this place a home for us!”), seemed to pander to the Tumblr-obsessed crowd of millennials, a sea of tank-tops and Vans brand slip-on sneakers who only have one mission: to contradict everything the Wonder Years’ frontman Dan “Soupy” Campbell had said about us being the greatest generation.

Anyone familiar with the online forums discussing the band are no stranger to hatred and jokes thrown their way, mostly for the same reasons listed above, but also based on the band’s early repetitious use of lyrics about “sleepy eyes and bony knees”. Am I expected to hate Real Friends too? Probably. Do I hate them? Not in the slightest. But can I honestly tell you, in good conscience, that any part of Maybe This Place is the Same and We’re Just Changing resembles qualities that truly “good albums” consist of? No, my good reader, I’m afraid I can’t do that.

The best place to start with this album is its title; that pretentious, overly long, “look we’re a pop-punk band who listens to American Football and has feelings” title is the first indication that you should get out while you still can. Paired with cover art comprised of seemingly meaningless everyday objects, these two often overlooked characteristics of an album are completely indicative of what lies ahead. But I know you, reader; you are like me, and so you trudge forward with a sliver of hope that maybe everyone else is cynical and I’m just optimistic. The title track is a fairly run-of-the-mill introduction reminiscent of The Story So Far’s “States and Minds”. Unfortunately, this is also a trend to soon be recognized: everything about this record is derivative of another pop-punk or emo outfit, like a Frankenstein’s monster complete with gauges and grey skinny jeans. Even “the clever way the album’s title is split between tracks!” was just done by the Wonder Years on 2011’s masterful Suburbia, I’ve Given You All, And Now I’m Nothing. Vocalist Dan Lambton consistently strives to find himself somewhere between Dan Campbell and the Starting Line’s Kenny Vasoli, oftentimes trading singing altogether for a grating yell.

Then you hone in on the lyrics. Yes, the vocals are mostly passable, but nothing can prepare you for what lyrical travesties await. Bassist Kyle Fasel seems to only know what he’s supposed to write, hinting at zero genuine emotion whatsoever and instead opting to rearrange buzzwords and clichés for 39 minutes: I hate this place, I’m lonely, *insert statement about the Midwest*, *insert name of US state* , you left me, I need you, I’m getting better, I’m alone in my bed, I only feel at home with my friends, etc. At one point, Lambton even sings about moving forward like a train, because, uhhh, trains tend to have wheels and move forward, just like I am!

It would appear the album’s only saving grace could be its musicianship, but alas, what is pop-punk without the hooks? I’m serious; there is a very apparent and concerning lack of melodies throughout the duration of MTPITSAWJC, and I’d like answers. We’ve heard evidence that the band is capable of writing them before. But pop-punk without the “pop” aspect is just punk music, and then you realize that “punk music” is certainly not this, and then…what the fuck am I listening to? Real Friends feels musically uninspired this time around- not terrible, but terribly mediocre, and lazy musicianship simply makes for boring songs. Upon repeated listens, I felt certain that there were at least three songs in the bunch that were of noticeably better quality than the rest: “Loose Ends,” and two others that I believe to be “Short Song” and “Spread Me All Over Illinois”. Or, were they “Summer” and “Sixteen”? That’s the thing; I honestly can’t tell the difference, and at this point, I don’t really care to. This is the final straw that pushes Maybe This Place… into a perfect storm, one that constitutes one of the most frustrating listens in recent history.

The problem isn’t that I hate Real Friends; again, it’s quite the contrary. I want to see them expand on their potential, and I want some fifteen-year-old kid to stumble upon this album in hopes that it will lead him to the Wonder Years, and Fireworks, and all sorts of talented artists that help listeners overcome their anxieties and rock out each and every day. And who am I to judge that kid for listening to Real Friends, if this is the record that helps him get through asking Tammy to the 8th grade dance? The problem isn’t that I hate this record; the frustrating fact is, this record makes me feel almost nothing (but it will complete the lives of approximately 213,429 Facebook fans- more than the Wonder Years or the Story So Far). And that is so much worse. So sad, it almost makes me buy into Kyle Fasel’s lyrics…but not quite sad enough.

This review originally appeared at Fastest Kid in School

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This review is a user submitted review from Vance Mook. You can see all of Vance Mook's submitted reviews here.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 19
06:47 AM on 08/06/14
#2
Anthony Sorendino
You are not your idea.
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I really enjoyed this one! Good stuff.
05:18 PM on 08/06/14
#3
Vance Mook
Fastest Kid in School
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I really enjoyed this one! Good stuff.
Thanks for reading! This was very fluid while I was writing it, and I tried to provide constructive criticism without bashing anything too much. Glad you enjoyed it!
11:17 AM on 08/10/14
#4
Rosenbcm
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Beautifully written and absolutely spot-on. They have got to be the most gimmicky band out there right now. They don't feel genuine in the least bit.
11:40 AM on 08/10/14
#5
smowashere
I am Groot.
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Fantastic review!
12:07 PM on 08/10/14
#6
Steve P.
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Excellent job of nailing down my problem with this band without coming across as you just wanted to shit on them like many negative reviews do. Great work. It saddens me that this band is huge when so many other incredibly talented bands will never receive the hype this band has.
12:34 PM on 08/10/14
#7
suicidalmoose
Lindsay let me kiss your forehead!
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Excellent review, very well written.
12:51 PM on 08/10/14
#8
TimTheMechanic
All alone is all I'll ever be
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Nailed it Vance. Perfectly sums up my issues with this band. Excellent read.
01:26 PM on 08/10/14
#9
stopshootrepeat
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Love this, great read and I agree with pretty much everything. I will never be able to get over Dan's vocals - he cannot sing.
01:49 PM on 08/10/14
augibudogida
daddy is home
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This band is everything I hate about pop-punk. They themselves are a massive gimmick. How could they be content with fitting every shitty stereotype plaguing the poppy side of pop-punk?
02:46 PM on 08/10/14
lovemetal24
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The problem with this album is many of the songs sound the same, and Dan is trying way too hard to imitate soupy, and gets no where close.....also, is it me or do many of the vocal melodies sound exactly the same?
03:26 PM on 08/10/14
Rosenbcm
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The problem with this album is many of the songs sound the same, and Dan is trying way too hard to imitate soupy, and gets no where close.....also, is it me or do many of the vocal melodies sound exactly the same?
LOL what melodies?
03:50 PM on 08/10/14
Vance Mook
Fastest Kid in School
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Excellent job of nailing down my problem with this band without coming across as you just wanted to shit on them like many negative reviews do. Great work. It saddens me that this band is huge when so many other incredibly talented bands will never receive the hype this band has.
Glad you said that- I made that mistake with Issues earlier this year (not that I entirely regret it), but I was really happy with the way this came out. You can tell I'm not a fan of this band or this record, but I give my reasons, and I genuinely hope they get better.
03:52 PM on 08/10/14
Vance Mook
Fastest Kid in School
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Love this, great read and I agree with pretty much everything. I will never be able to get over Dan's vocals - he cannot sing.
I think his vocals are honestly the most passable part of this; there's potential there (and everywhere) if the entire record wasn't a grab at imitating other groups in the scene, his voice included. It's grating when he attempts to yell everything.
03:53 PM on 08/10/14
Vance Mook
Fastest Kid in School
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Sorry for the triple post; thanks for reading everyone! Glad to see others are as happy with the review as I am.

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