Despite flaunting one of the crummiest names in modern hardcore, Russia’s Friends Will Be Friends have produced an elastic debut that flawlessly binds together the sound of brash post-hardcore and pop-punk, proving that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Reassuringly, ‘Welcome To The Backstage’ is a leap forward from their crude easycore ‘It Happens To Everyone’ EP, defining the exclusive sound that they’ve previously established.
“Puzzling” fittingly describes the LP’s opening three tracks, as each sound as if they could’ve been penned by different bands, leaving a sour taste initially. Opener, ‘I Was Born For This’, feels like the main theme to a spy flick, whereas ‘Welcome To The Backstage’ provides listeners with the dizzying impression that they’re listening to a metalcore album.
There’s a surprising number of guest stars scattered across the record, featuring members of My Autumn, Melody Fall and pop hardcore outfit Can’t Bear This Party. The combination of multiple genres and guests are the signs of a band suffering from an identity crisis. The strong lack of consistency makes it hard to put your finger on what truly defines the band.
Friends Will Be Friends really hit the ground running with the track ‘The Story About Me’, which boasts influence from the likes of Attack Attack! and A Day To Remember. What stands out is the band’s ability to fuse together pop vocal hooks with weighty, chugging guitar riffs. ‘Through The Light’ is a shimmering pop-punk track and one of the band’s best, proving itself to be extremely catchy and doesn’t rely on being overly technical.
Closer, ‘Between My Demons’, contains a strong galloping pace and introduces several new dynamics, such as crowd chants and programmed percussion. The LP has a bittersweet finish teasing the audience by concluding with its finest moment.
Overall, ‘Welcome To The Backstage’, struggles to stand on its own, as it’s never really clear what the band are wanting to accomplish. Although it does succeed in marrying together its various influences of pop-punk, post-hardcore and metalcore, its triumphs are soon eclipsed by its copious shortcomings.
Written by Kieran Harris