Label: Cooking Vinyl
Released: 14th January 2022
Having teased their second album throughout the past eighteen months via single and EP releases, a true Fickle Friends anorak will be familiar with around half of ‘Are We Gonna Be Alright?’ already. The Brighton popsters used their duo of ‘Weird Years’ EPs as a way to keep creating and releasing during the monotony of 2020, reflected in lyrics of ‘Write Me a Song’, ‘Alone’ and side B highlight ‘IRL’, odes to making music and human connection.
There’s no messing around here, every track clocking in around the three-minute mark, packing a punch and never overstaying its welcome. ‘Glow’ borrows Chic guitar chops as Fickle Friends go heavy on the funk. Lead track ‘Love You to Death’ pairs this staccato fretwork with thrilling lyrical intent for one of the band’s most impactful numbers. Similarly, ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah’ cranks up the energy, guitars suddenly cranked to ‘very heavy’ showing that Fickle Friends are capable of moshpit moments as well as dance floor boppers.
Perhaps a product of its fragmented creation, ‘Are We Gonna Be Alright?’ moves between their tried and true retro pop, funky experimentation and a few more straight-ahead rockers; the pop-punk fizz of ‘Won’t Hurt Myself’ is the pick of these. The variety suits them, showing off new styles without ditching what got them here.
The album’s centrepiece, ‘Pretty Great’ lives up to its title, reaching back to their debut with a vintage 80s power pop beat, vocalist Natti Shiner navigating nostalgia to remind herself that she’s “the fucking best”. In this form, it’s hard to knock their confidence.