CD Review: Friendly Foes “Born Radical”

A Detroit-based 3-piece that sounds like they are having a blast playing “My Body (Is a Strange Place To Live)” with it’s quick guitar riffs and Mother Hips-styled dense psyche touches. By getting down to the early 80’s DIY essence of the punk/pop movement, the Friendly Foes raging diatribes on rock and roll’s currents state of affairs are done with just enough sugar to help this medicine go down. Coming from other bands, Ryan Allen (Thunderbirds Are Now!), Brad Elliott (Satin Peaches), and Lizzie Wittman (Kiddo) hit the ground running. Opening with “Full Moon Morning” it’s a template for the best of this album, with angular guitar riffs and Ryan leading the charge. Friendly Foes’ sound best compares with The New Pornographers, but it’s not all fey pop sweetness here. Using sunny boy-girl harmonies and bouncy major chords on “Criminal Justice” it’s got a catchy swagger that is hard to ignore. This album takes no prisoners and doesn’t let up either. So if you’re looking for a ballad somewhere, you’ve got the wrong album. Wittman gets to shine on a few songs, notably “Get Ripped” which resembles The B-52’s and The Ramones combined. All this energy goes to good use as almost every song here kicks ass. Some highlights include, “Get Yr Shit Together”, “Couch Surfing”and the epic “Lil’ Tiger” all with excellent melodies and great musicianship. On “Dying To Survive” and “Breakfast Burritos” gets a bit too typical, but that is being picky here. This is like power pop with an extra shot of caffeine. Make mine a double.

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Aaron Kupferberg