Break the frame, and you see something new. You Are Someone Else is a debut that smashes the staid lines of indie rock, a hybrid of literate pop and art rock so completely realised, and so completely irresistible, it has no trouble standing out as an instant classic and a seminal debut.
We’ve written endlessly about Fickle Friends – it’s a miracle I don’t see the Brighton five piece when I close my eyes. To get here (a major label debut) they’ve toured doggedly, winning grass roots support up and down the country and rotation on Radio 1.
Fickle Friends released their first single ‘Swim’ back in 2014 – the year where every man woman & child holding a guitar was playing something that sounded a bit like Duran Duran. While the 80s fad has shown no sign of abating, Fickle Friends have moved far beyond evoking new wave glory.
It’s clear from the opening bars of ‘Wake Me Up’ (à la Does It Offend You Yeah?) that the emphasis rests firmly on to-the-point, direct calls to anthemia. A sugar-coated pop tune that nevertheless conflates death on the operating table (“someone call it now“) with a particularly gruesome breakup (“we’re absolutely failing“). Breakup is a recurring theme, and hardly a novel one, though here it forms the germ of such fun & bouncy songs you’d struggle to care. Meanwhile adolescent angst (‘Bite’) anxiety (‘Hard To Be Myself’) and drunken bravado (‘Glue’) bear fruit.
What gives these fourteen songs such an edge on their imitators is the pitch perfect, often funny, always memorable song-writing that is present throughout. You Are Someone Else is peppered with biting lyricisms far beyond the realm of radio pop. Singer Natti’s delivery is good natured enough to prevent the humour souring into pith.
Every track on this debut has something enjoyable, some element that lands so well it keeps your finger over the replay button. Indelible bass grooves, an eclectic mix of synth / keys / drum machines & spiky, rhythmic guitars. The feel is very much spit-shined blockbuster pop, buffed to a sheen.
The old adage that a book should not be judged by its cover was obviously coined before the gatefold LP was a thing. You Are Someone Else is precisely as fresh, sunny and accessible as the pop art adorning the cover would suggest. The Hey Nineteen team crack a smile so rarely we’ve barely retained the motor skills. We’re beaming right now.