Album Review: Real Friends – Put Yourself Back Together EP

imageDespite having only a handful of EP’s under their belt, Chicago pop punk outfit Real Friends have already amassed a cult following. Similar to The Story So Far, Handguns and the like, Real Friends profess to deliver ‘sad songs, mean songs and Midwest living.’ Their last release, ‘Three Songs About The Past Year Of My Life,’ a three-track gap filler between full-length EP’s, continued their trend of delivering tight, catchy songs. In short, Real Friends are the kind of band that makes you want to shout every line while vigorously jabbing your finger in the air.

Latest release ‘Put Yourself Back Together,’ doesn’t buck the trend, in fact it’s near identical to 2012’s ‘Everyone That Dragged You Here.’ Real Friends’ newest EP is seven tracks of slick pop punk, with a slower number thrown in to round things off.

‘Late Nights in My Car,’ ‘Skin Deep’ (with its nod to Jimmy Eat World) and ‘Dead’ are all enjoyable, memorable efforts, and while the reworked version of ‘Dirty Water’ seems superfluous, it’s by no means bad. Break up anthem ‘Lost Boy’ combines self-hatred and anger in equal measures while ‘Old And All Alone’ is a brilliantly venomous attack on an ex, including lines like “You wouldn’t know a good thing even if it slapped the makeup right off your face.” Ouch!

Sadly, closer ‘I’ve Given Up On You’ is a standard acoustic number, which simply rehashes clique pop punk tropes (giving up, not being able to listen to the same songs anymore, 4am). It’s by no means bad, just predictable, and ends the EP on a slight downer.

However despite its likeability there is a glaring issue with ‘Put Yourself Back Together’ – repetition. Some pop punk bands use reoccurring motifs in their songs, and when done well (i.e “I’m not sad anymore”) it can be a great. Real Friends’ motif of ’sleepy eyes and bony knees’ has popped up across all their releases and evolved into the bands signature. However over the course of ‘Put Yourself Back Together,’ Real Friends slam you over the head with it, mentioning one or the other thirteen times over the twenty-minute span of the EP. It’s heavy-handed, distracting and at points, irritating.

Maybe I’m being fussy, but sleepy eyes and bony knees aside, despite this being a solid EP, I expected more from Real Friends. I didn’t expect just another good effort, I assumed Real Friends would knock it out of the ball park, but instead they’ve delivered more of the same. ‘Put Yourself Back Together’ is by no means bad, but with an extra push they could evolve from a good band to a great one. In the meantime, this is the perfect summer listen while we await their eventual full length. Keep it up Real Friends; just give the sleepy eyes and bony knees a rest next time.


‘Put Yourself Back Together’ by Real Friends is out now on Bandcamp.

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Words by Jay Sullivan.


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