Friendly Fires, 'Friendly Fires' (XL)

7
Friendly Fires
Critical Mass
Label: XL

by Barry Walters

It would take an act of genius for a new British dance-rock band to seem original four years after the debut of an already quotation-conscious Franz Ferdinand. Nicking from Talking Heads and beyond ("On Board" lifts a synth riff via Frankie Knuckles and Jamie Principle's house track "Your Love"), these suburban lads make no such claims. But the trio offers copious catchy bits, more tonal variation than the usual guitar-plus-beats norm, and an appealingly pleading frontman in Ed Macfarlane. Set to unfailingly sprightly tempos, Friendly Fires' debut -- especially the single "Jump in the Pool," produced by dance-rock architect Paul Epworth -- explodes with emo-friendly enthusiasm rare for arty Anglos.

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