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Funeral for a Friend - Casually Dressed and Deep in... Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 8.75
Musicianship 8.25
Lyrics 8.75
Production 9
Creativity 8.25
Lasting Value 9.25
Reviewer Tilt 9
Final Verdict: 88%
Member Ratings
Vocals 8.75
Musicianship 9
Lyrics 8.13
Production 8.88
Creativity 8.25
Lasting Value 8.75
Reviewer Tilt 9
Average: 87%
Inside AP.net

Funeral for a Friend - Casually Dressed and Deep in...

Reviewed by: James Ding (06/11/09)
Funeral for a Friend - Casually Dressed and Deep in Conversation
Record Label: Warner (UK)/Ferret (US)
Release Date: October 20, 2003

While I thoroughly enjoy reading and writing for this site (ass-kissing over now), I was slightly concerned upon inspection by the omission of some pretty significant British and European releases that certainly warrant some digital shelf-space. Take comfort though, because I've appointed myself as some kind of self-created crusader for these under-represented albums (although if I were in those bands that wouldn't give me much comfort). So, to that end, this review marks the start of a series of those focused more on European, especially British, records that, so far, lack the all-important absolutepunk.net approved numerical value, which assigns some value to our petty little lives. And where better to start than the debut album of one of the finest modern British bands, Funeral for a Friend.

While I get the impression that they're not particularly huge Stateside, FFAF are consistently selling out some of the top clubs in the country back home, and almost anyone with some interest in the alternative scene has something nice to say about them. This was the album that kick-started it all, back when screaming was new and all the rage. Casually Dressed and Deep in Conversation is an excellent album. It was highly lauded even by commercial radio and plastered all across the terrestrial TV channels. Even considering the relentless waves of 3rd, 4th, 5th etc. generation bands following the template here, the album still stands tall atop of many recent releases due to the quality of the music on offer, and even though FFAF may have strayed from the style that started their career, this is still a landmark album in modern British rock music.

Matt Davies' clean vocals haven't quite reached the strengths that they would reach in the next few albums. They're a little more strained and a little more raw, and show that this was a band still finding their feet. Ryan Richards' heavier vocals are much more pronounced in this album than they would ever be again, and as a result, the album feels considerably tougher and angrier. Maybe it's the angst of youth, maybe it's the eagerness of a debut album, or maybe it's the fact that we hadn't all gotten bored of this style at this point, but this album carries a lot of rage within its 50 minute lifespan. "I want to snap your neck in two and leave you for dead," screams Richards on "She Drove Me To Daytime Television." "Bullet Theory" contains the words "Take a gun called hate up against your heart and pull the trigger." While the lyrics may seem a little cliched, the message couldn't be clearer. The lyrics are often somewhat contrived in this manner -- after all, this is a debut release from a relatively inexperienced band. However, there's an honesty to what they're doing, and sending my mind back to 2003, I can easily recall my 17-year-old mind being amazed by ideas that hadn't been saturated to the point of suffocating all meaning.

The instruments on this album are well-played. While there are glimpses of the intricacies that Kris Roberts would hone on later releases, most evidently on "Red Is The New Black," it is, for the most part, more functional than outstanding. It provides a strong framework to the interplay between Davies and Richards' dueling vocal styles. Indeed, the weaker songs are those that fail to exploit this strong relationship fully, such as the closer "Novella." The ballad included in this album, "Your Revolution Is A Joke," rarely has an instrument unaccompanied and is stronger for the focus on Davies' vocals, the violin in the background adding more poignancy to his raw and undeveloped tone. Here again, the anger burns through, with Davies singing "we stand to fight for nothing" and proclaiming that the revolution is a joke. This is not simply the anger of youth, but it's anger at the ineffectualness of the anger of youth, which is pretty philosophical when you manage to get your head around it.

However, as with all good rock bands, the best songs are the ones that rock the hardest. Lead single "Juneau" is still a fan favorite, with an excellent intro riff and a brilliantly full sound. Heavier cuts such as "She Drove Me to Daytime Television" and "Red Is the New Black" bubble with teenage angst that FFAF could still legitimately connect with at this point and poppier tracks like "Storytelling" and "Waking Up" are insanely catchy. They're not all winners -- "Bullet Theory" and "Bend Your Arms To Look Like Wings" are lacking in imagination and "Novella" is almost ruined by a slow-burning ending that is more damp squib than spark.

In general though, this is a very strong album. One of the few truly successful British forays into the harder side of emo before it went the way of all things and became exploited as the next commercial thing. As a retrospective review, it's hard to see it in its contemporary setting, which represented a more original sound than it appears to us nowadays. However, it remains a benchmark for modern British outfits, partly because the band themselves are so well-loved that everyone wants to emulate them, but also partly because it's such a strong album. Anyone who hasn't managed to check it out, for whatever reason, should definitely spend some time getting to know it. After all, we can't really hold it against them that they're Welsh.

Recommended If You LikeSaosin, Lostprophets, Fightstar, English, screaming into a hairdryer because you're still a teenager so it's still ok


http://www.myspace.com/funeralforafriend
 
Displaying posts 1 - 14 of 14
08:54 PM on 06/18/09
#2
Klatzke
Don't give me no hand me down love.
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One of the best user-written reviews (including beating all of mine) that I've read on this site. However, I'm not a fan of FFAF.
06:09 AM on 06/19/09
#3
resurge
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good review but I lost respect for you at the end due to the un-needed comment about the welsh at the end.
sort yourself out
08:39 AM on 06/19/09
#4
Smeee
AP.net's Resident Staryu
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Very well-written review. I think the rating is a little high but it is a good album. The jab at the Welsh is borderline racist. I look forward to seeing what you'll review next.
10:46 AM on 06/19/09
#5
James Ding
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Lol, I'm only kidding guys. I've got nothing against the Welsh, if anything I love them for the huge amounts of good music they've produced recently. Trying to end on a joke, guess it fell flat. Sorry.
05:41 PM on 06/19/09
#6
Akissforher
City Love
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love to see some fightstar and lostprophets reviews from you being your delving into that part of the world's scene.

i really like the review but i just cant get into them, not sure i get the RIYL to saosin
06:01 PM on 06/19/09
#7
deanster321
BLEGH
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I enjoyed this review. Will you be reviewing any of their other albums? That would be interesting to see, being as in my experience they are quite divisive to say the least.
01:19 AM on 06/20/09
#8
James Ding
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I'm submitted one for Memory & Humanity as well. Gonna start looking at Lostprophets next I think.
05:37 AM on 06/20/09
#9
<@Drawde>
Waffleman Extraordinaire
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Great album, one of my favourites. Good review.
12:54 PM on 06/21/09
Nolessthanblink
Are you watching closely?
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Rookie of the Year... Song was bomb in high school
07:33 PM on 06/22/09
xapplexpiex
&.&
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I love this band. This is a spot-on review.
07:33 AM on 07/07/09
Melkor
You and I are going to Live Forever
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Novella is fantastic, so I disagree there. I would also say that the guitar work is more than just functional and the melodies between Kris and Darran are a huge part of this record for me.
06:49 AM on 08/08/09
tottivillarossi
these pretzels are makin me thirsty
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Storytelling is crap. Bullet... and Bend... are two good songs. I don't agree with this review all that much really, I'm puzzled as to why musicianship is your lowest score, too.
05:37 AM on 06/01/11
alerion
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yeah, I agree with tottivillaross about the musicianship, I would have definately rated it a lot higher, probably somewhere around 9
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