Real Friends sounds like they’re growing up.
Composure, the third full length from midwest pop-punk vets Real Friends, feels like a natural progression from their previous release, “The Home Inside My Head.” Leaving behind the whiney tendencies they’ve been known for in the past, the band has developed to a more complex version of themselves.
Perhaps the record can be best summed up with a line from the title track: “I’m reclaiming my composure”. It stays true to the introspective lyrics involving relationships, mental health, and easily relatable topics the band has touched on in the past, while musically heading more towards catchy, poppy hooks.
Lyrically, the record deals with mental illness in a personal and compelling way. Real Friends has always been a band whose lyrics and music evoke a sense of longing and heartache, and this record is no different. However, with the help of Dan Lambton contributing more than ever to the writing process, the lyrics feel more fully developed in the past. The added layers of complexity help push the band to a place that feels more mature than many of their earlier releases.
Introspection has always been a strong suit for the band, and Composure is no different. “Am I telling myself the truth about my self esteem and how others place their worth in me?/I’m staring through the eyes of someone else/Am I telling myself the truth?” is a question asked in the track “Smiling on the Surface”, which deals head-on with mental health.
“On The Outside” is similar, with lyrics like “Redefine rock bottom with these empty orange bottles/Never felt so paralyzed before” and “From the outside I seem fine/On the inside I’m still sick”.
However, through all of the struggles discussed in depth, there’s a sense of stability that seeps through the crushing grief of so many lyrics. “Looking back on my youth it’s good that I grew/Watch me try to stand steady/Like a bird in a hurricane”, from Stand Steady, captures that somewhat newfound strength and stability well, and the phrase “carry on” enforces it repeatedly throughout the album.
Though the album sometimes gives way to cliché in a way reminiscent of the band’s past, it overall sounds more developed, more personal, and more grown up, pushing the band to new limits without losing the extraordinarily frank and honest tendencies they’re known and loved for.
Pop Punk | Fearless Records