"Live Those Days Tonight"
There's something about the parrot that evokes beach parties, five star resorts, and summer nights. It is likely that this correlation lead Friendly Fires to nominate the bird as the mascot for their latest outing, their followup to 2008's largely successful self-titled debut. Identical to how people recall beautiful skies and white sands when they think "parrot," Pala—delivered in the nick of time—will be synonymous with "summer" in 2011. Its tropical, dance infectious demeanour, upbeat anthems and island good-nature will be most likely appreciated by outdoor party goers of all sorts this season.
Pala is an appropriate successor to Friendly Fires. Though certainly less gritty, it perpetuates the brightest aspects of U.K. pop that appeared on FF standouts like “In The Hospital” and “Strobe.” Where Friendly Fires as a whole leaned slightly toward the New York City dance-punk sound mainstreamed by LCD Soundsystem and DFA Records, Pala is all Ibiza, best listened to with a Corona in your hand and sweat dripping down your forehead.
Frontman Ed Macfarlane had claimed that the record was inspired by 80s and 90s pop outfits, citing everyone from N Sync to Missy Elliot as a reference. Pala's pop influences are palpable from the opening track, “Chimes,” which certainly sets a dance-floor centric mood for the remainder of the album. Dreamy synths, bold bass lines, and a serious fondness for disco and Euro house is the conjecture brought to life here. They even incorporate a soft ballad with the title track, get seductively funky on album closer “Helpless,” and bring the eighties back to life with “True Love.”
Pala's sole mission is to move bodies on both sides of the Atlantic. It is FriendlyFires' looser, tipsier and, yes, more fun younger brother. Pala is heavier on the synthesizers, heavier on the electro reverberation, and though it's thoroughly ample in beats, the drums and bass is nowhere as boisterous. Where before Friendly Fires were adamant on remaining an “indie band," with Pala it seems that they've embraced pop music head on and left everything else behind. It certainly makes for a contrastive listen when compared to their debut, but it's also easily as enjoyable.