The beat goes on for Fickle Friends, whose latest album, Are We Gonna Be Alright?, gives the Brighton-based rock band a foot on the ladder for best of the year. It may have just started, but it’s never too early to seek out albums, tracks and artists worthy of those end of year lists. Fickle Friends are just that, and the twelve tracks they offer on their sophomore album is a sincerely great and unique effort. A deluge of work for the indie genre has made it a bin of ideas and hopeless hopefuls pinning their efforts and desires on songs about lust, anger and angst. Few have managed to navigate it all that well, but Fickle Friends make easy work of it with a confident second album.
Opening track Love You to Death is a smart one, the harsh lyricisms and twists Natassja Shiner moulds into a mistakably nice title is great. Fickle Friends are good at that, though. The implication of lyricism and the change of meaning behind it. They do not chase the constant and typical details of the literal word, instead taking solace in the constant targeting of a few themes the band are comfortable exploring. IRL and Won’t Hurt Myself will hit close to the heart of those that need to hear it.
Like all great albums, Are We Gonna Be Alright? has a flow that ties the tracks to one another. The bridge between Not Okay and Write Me a Song is tremendous. That sudden stop and start progress through the A-Side is an exceptionally grand experience. Much of that is dependent on Jack Wilson and the samples he scatters throughout these tracks. They have that unmistakably upbeat jaunt of the indie genre but manage it with a range few others can offer. Sam Fender stormed through with tracks of his childhood and reflection last year and set the bar for how musicians can and should experiment with a blurring of sound and style, Fickle Friends are not far behind him in their approach to songwriting and performance. Where it is so difficult to stand out in a deluge of work, Fickle Friends make an easy job of it with stunningly good tracks like Alone and Pretty Great.
Harder and harder it is to maintain consistency across twelve tracks, the number of artists managing that is slimmer and slimmer as the years go by. Fickle Friends make easy work of that consistency with an unwavering dedication to quality. Few bands from the past few years can maintain that. Wolf Alice spring to mind, so too did Parquet Courts until their dismal Sympathy for Life. But it is good to see Fickle Friends storm through with something to prove and, crucially, something to muse on as they crack through twelve very solid, very good tracks. Another great group to keep an eye on, Are We Gonna Be Alright? boasts confidence usually reserved for artists with decades of experience behind them. It is the bold style and reappraisal of indie-pop Fickle Friends offers. Listeners are in safe hands if this is the future of the genre.