It is apparent now that pop punk is, in fact, not dead. Ever since Williamstown, NJ’s Man Overboard launched their line of merchandise depicting the “Defend Pop Punk” logo, there has been a strong resurgence within the pop punk realm. I’m not saying that the genre died out, but its relevance within the mainstream music realm has definitely heightened. Real Friends has only helped to aid in the defense of the genre, but they have already fallen into a monotonous cycle. Hailing from the suburbs of Chicago, Real Friends’ debut EP Everyone That Dragged You Here came storming into the music scene and gained a lot of appreciation among those who are fans of d-beats and positive mindsets, but I found myself more disappointed than I was pleased.
I think what Real Friends does so well that many pop punk bands have been drifting away from is creating energy within their sound. Listeners get a good mix of guitar riffs that pound and sometimes float over relentless drumming. Frontman Dan Lambton’s vocals give a Blink-182/Tom DeLonge vibe that is hard to ignore and something that those who appreciate the ‘punk’ more than the ‘pop’ can cherish. However, pop punk can become monotonous unless a band can properly compile and compose their songs in a way that doesn’t get boring. Sadly, Everyone That Dragged You Here is repetitive and also does not surpass subject matters that most pop punk bands write about: feeling beat up over a girl and being insecure. But hey, if that’s what a band wants to write about, then power to them. All I’m saying is that it has been done time and time again.
While their songs are packed with energy, there’s only so much time that can be allotted to being high off of adrenaline. Listeners need a break, and perhaps they can get that relief through the final track “Home for Fall”. Unfortunately, I got so bored with the same old tonality and quick pacing that I just wasn’t feeling this EP by the time I reached the end.
Another issue that arose while listening was the incredibly gimmicky lyrics I had the displeasure of hearing. In their single “Floorboards”, Lambton sings: “I don’t wanna be/jealous of the trees/next to my neighbor’s garage anymore.” In the grand scheme of this EP, it is this line that sort of ruins it for me. I understand what they were trying to say, but it feels unnatural. Maybe what they’re trying to convey to listeners is genuine, but it’s nothing that I haven’t heard before and it gets monotonous all too quickly. It seems as though many of these songs were written with lines that are meant to be printed on t-shirts, desperate to stand out.
The melodies are catchy and each song is packed with the same high energy that you would find on any pop punk album, but when you look into the lyrics to find sentiment, it falls a bit flat. Everyone That Dragged You Here is an EP that I play as background noise if I ever do choose to listen to it. For me, pop punk will always have the angst that made me the person I am today. Vocally and instrumentally, Real Friends can easily convey that angst, but the lyrics make this EP seem naïve and sold short. There is potential, it’s just not quite there yet.