Funeral For A Friend: Tales Don't Tell Themselves
Funeral For A Friend - Tales Don't Tell Themselves - [Atlantic Records]


What started with Green Day's "American Idiot" carried on with My Chemical Romance's "The Black Parade" and most recently with Linkin Park's "Minutes To Midnight" has now caught Funeral For A Friend – a strange virus indeed, infecting bands loved mostly by teens around the world. A virus called adulthood, or more like the pretense of adulthood; like a boy wearing his father's suite, or a girl in her mother's high-heels and lipstick. The fans haven't aged much since Funeral For A Friend's debut 4-song EP "Between Order an Model", but the few years that have passed since 2002 have been very formative for the band and fans alike (a 14-year old is now about 19 or 20, for example). For one, both have wishfully thinking stopped using too much make-up (especially black eyeliner), stopped combing their pony hair sideways attempting to look rough and hopefully worked their way into more quality music.

"Tales Don't Tell Themselves" is a concept album. There, I said it, now stop laughing and let's really deal with it. Seriously, stop. There's an actual story behind the 10 tracks in this album; a fisherman whose ship gets shipwrecked in a severe storm has all crew-members dying as a result, as the only survivor he gets delusional while drifting in the open sea. He hits a deserted shore and overcomes his newborn fear of the ocean, eventually finding his way home to his family. Sound like a seen-before Hollywood movie? I'm sure we can all agree this is much better than lyrics about teen angst & teen rage.
FFAF have went a long way from verses like "…and just to soften the blow/ I'll steal all of your kisses/ And sew them up/ In the creases of our hearts" (found in "Kiss and Makeup", from 2003's "Four Ways To Scream Your Name") to verses like "The days I've felt alone/ And the sea, it brings me back again/ So that I can see my wife/ And I can see my child/ Home, I'm home, it never changes/ Same old faces, same old places" found in opener "Into Oblivion (reunion)".

So, FFAF start things off with the right foot, as opener "Into Oblivion (reunion)" starts telling the tale from its chronological end, building up electronic keyboards, violins and an angelic female voice just to be blasted off by a superb riff – sounds pompous? It's actually well-balanced, and I'd even go as far as saying it's their best single to date. Older fans of the mixture between clean nasal vocals and occasional corresponding shouts these welsh guys were so identified with weren't pleased to find the band almost completely dropped it back in 2005's "Hours", so they're bound to dislike pop-rock tracks like "On A Wire" or "The Diary", where vocalist Matt Davies is joined by Lianne Francis (both sing in his side project The Secret Show) in the role of the fisherman's awaiting wife, kind of a modern Penelope. Another trademark of this band, and what got me interested in the initially, is their well-crafted guitar work; it's just full of hooks and catchy riffs and leads. Examples of this can be found here all over, yet are most prominent in the aforementioned opener, "The Great Wide Open", "Out Of Reach", and the U2-influenced "Walk Away".

The album has three peaks- its opening track, the 2-part center piece "All Hands On Deck" and closing epic piano-led, almost progy track "The Sweetest Wave". Exactly halfway through the album "Raise The Sail" washes you up with gigantic tidal waves of distortion, while Matt's voice echoes from between the great guitar waves, bass thumps at the ship's sides, thundering drum beats of the storm around and dramatic life-threatening strings – it's man versus nature. The second half of "All Hands On Deck", "Open Water", prevails the feeling of what happens after the storm; you can smell the morning, taste the salty water, feel the sandy beach, sense the loneliness.

There's no avoiding comparison to the bands mentioned at the beginning, same as there is no avoiding mentioning ex-Blink 182 singer/guitarist Tom DeLonge's "Angels & Airwaves". The difference between these albums lays in where they've all been aimed to, and whether each of them eventually hit; so while A&W was a sorry flop, "the black parade" a bodybuilding show of all muscles but no force, "American idiot" an overrated pseudo-punk album, and "minutes to midnight" the embodiment of pretense, "Tales…" rides the wave and bring the golden surfing cup home.

Funeral For A Friend is well-known to be one of the bands that made a genre popular. This genre is Emo (Emocore to be precise) and these welsh lads brought it to surface a couple of years ago.
"Casually Dressed & Deep in Conversation" marked their growing pains, and "Hours" marked their self-search, so it is only natural for "Tales…" to mark their first real steps in the adult life of a band. With such a solid, yet easy-listening album in hand and a debut for matt's side project "The secret show" soon to emerge it is safe to put our hopes up high, but not too high. After all, there is only one At The Drive In/The Mars Volta case.

Ofer Vayner

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