Funeral For a Friend - Tales Don't Tell Themselves
When you first listen to the new album from Funeral For A Friend, they appear like any other version of the emo-rock bands that are dominating in the States at the moment; it would be sensible to take another listen before you pass judgement. They are not American but Welsh and very talented in their own way. With the 'difficult' second album gone, it's time to deliver a breathtaking rock album, titled Tales Don't Tell Themselves. Each album to date has seen them progress that little bit more: their debut had a more post-hardcore sound, and the second continued this with a more polished effort. Their intention with this ambitious third album was to move away from the usual post-hardcore attack to a more 'rock' sound, while revealing they weren't afraid to expand on their emo background. This album is a 10-track excursion into complex, emotionally involved hard rock, and while it might not quite be a reinvention, it is certainly the sound of a band re-energised.
Despite its loud sound, the album is touched with melancholy. The lyrics tell stories of wives, children and dark nights lost and alone at sea. It sees them apply yet another layer of sparkle to their sound, resulting in a concrete, digestible rock album that despite being not as strong as previous releases, is still a fairly decent album in it's own right. Matt Davies' vocals are amazingly clear and precise. The easier the album is to listen to, the more the listener can appreciate Ryan Richards' drumming, the harmonising of Kris Coombs-Roberts and Darran Smith on guitar, not to mention Gareth Davies' bass lines. The tracks on this album prove screamed vocals are not required to make an impression, the sound here is very melodic. Songs such as On A Wire contain remarkable vocals, catchy tunes like Raise The Sail, and the Diary have catchy sing along parts, Great Wide Open has a chanting centre you can't help but love, while Out Of Reach and One For The Road are packed with the boys identifiable trademark riffing.
The first single, Into Oblivion, middle track Raise The Sail and final song Sweetest Wave are operatic in the use of strings and vocals; the water theme is fitting as these guys really have come in with the tide. The album begins with Into Oblivion, which after a short atmospheric, orchestral introduction gives way to an upbeat guitar solo, followed by terrific vocals, and verses and choruses, which are epic! This tune is catchy, has the sort of lyrics you could sing along to 'I stare into oblivion', and a full-blown chorus you want to yell. This first single demonstrates this album is about as 'punk' as the Backstreet Boys and as rock as rock can get – with the addition of strings, choirs and a chorus of unashamedly classic proportions. Unfortunately, it only reached number 16 in the Official UK chart.
Most, if not all the tracks on the album have a heavy rock feel, with extremely strong guitar riffs such as on Great wide open and the Diary. The ballads On a Wire and One For The Road are heartfelt, uplifting, and a little melodramatic. The chorus' are ear-catching enough, but the tracks lack that ballad appeal, with not much emotion. This compared to Walk Away, which is one of the more dynamic songs on the album with its quiet verse/loud chorus, and piano melody is a lovely contrast. In the middle of the album is a two-part song, although to be honest they sound more like two separate songs. Raise the sail is a standard rock song, and is far better than most of the songs on the album. It incorporates orchestral backing in the bridge section, which makes it standout, and is generally a good, fast, upbeat song. The dramatic Open Water, with its emotional lyrics starts immediately afterwards. It's a slower, more melancholic number with an appropriately atmosphere culminating in Matt's solo voice ringing out over the last chords, "Awake, I am awake, and I'm still alive out here..." The album ends with The Sweetest Wave, which is generally very quiet with orchestral instruments and piano backing only in the verse. It speeds up in the last chorus ensuring that it didn't just all build up to nothing. This is a cinematic masterpiece accompanied by a 26-piece orchestra...amazing ending to the album.
This is a well-performed album that has a very attractive amount of depth to it. Even though there are a few songs that are of similar paces, there are a few good tracks that will keep you entertained. The transformation from a post-hardcore band to almost pop rock has outraged many fans, but will ultimately pull in a new generation. Funeral For A Friend aren't necessarily a group you'll have come into contact with before, but this is definitely the album you should listen to, to get a sense of the band.