Moving on from a tragic life event can be one of the hardest things to do, and tackling some of the more depressing and tough moments in life can be a struggle. But that is exactly what the band Real Friends aims to do in their newest record “The Home Inside My Head,” which packs enough emotion to make it one of the band’s best albums yet and separate them from the rest of pop-punk scene.
Real Friends is a pop-punk band from Tinley Park, Illinois. Often branding themselves as the state’s sad boys, their music is best described as a mix of emo and rock. With six Eps and one studio album under their belts, the five band members are no longer rookie musicians. It was just a matter of time before their second studio album would hit. That album is “The Home Inside My Head,” and, more or less, the band remained true to themselves with this record.
“The Home Inside My Head” tackles much of the same content that the band is known for. Moving on from past failed relationships, trying to become a better person and battling with depression are all topics in the album. While this time there is not as much of a focus on hooks, the album includes some of the best lyrics that the band has written to date. There is a much greater sense of maturity coming from this record, which is something the band needed to make it over the sophomore slump.
“The Home Inside My Head” is a 12 track record and clocks out at around 37 minutes long. There is a sense of randomness in the structuring of the album, which makes listening all the way through a bit awkward at times because a few songs feel out of place and disrupt the flow. Some of the tracks stand out a lot stronger than others, but there is still enough here to make it worthwhile to listen to the whole record. There is not a thematic element driving the album, requiring each song to compete with the others for that stand out single. The few tracks that really do stand out are “Mokena” and “Empty Picture Frames,” and these tracks will stick with you long after you listen to them.
Musically, “The Home Inside My Head” is on par with everything else that Real Friends has put out in their career. There is not much of a difference in their style or influences that would draw attention to the music. The band does a very good job at staying true to themselves and maintaining their musical intentions. The most notable difference in the music, to the more trained listener, is the lack of hooks throughout the entire record. The songs that do have hooks, however, stand out as the strongest of the record like “Empty Picture Frames.” Although it is subtly done, the hook makes the track that much stronger. The other musically strong song of the record is “Colder Quicker,” which showcases the band member’s strengths as musicians.
Lyrically, there is a repetitive nature throughout a lot of the record. All of the songs are about moving on, but none of them tell a whole story. This makes each track feel like it is meant to be part of a larger narrative. It often leaves the listener with a sense of already heard this before. There are some really strong lyrics that make some of the songs catchy. “Scared To Be Alone” and “Mess” are the best examples of this. The band has moved past the point your finger mentality of some of their older songs and has showed off their more mature side.
Overall, “The Home Inside My Head” is Real Friends’ strongest work to date. While it is not a genre defining record or the band’s magnum opus, it does set Real Friends apart from the rest of the scene. It shows off how much the band has grown up, while creating a few catchy hits at the same time. It is worth a listen for any pop-punk fan and is a pretty solid record all around.
Final Score 3.5/5
If you were hoping to catch Real Friends live, you don’t have to wait long. The band will be apart of the Van’s Warped Tour all summer long. The tour will make a stop in Denver on July 31. You can buy your tickets at vanswarpedtour.com If you want other bands to check out at this years Warped Tour, I have you covered. I wrote about some can’t miss acts all coming to Denver, which you can read about here.
Collegian Music Critic Alec Erickson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @CTV_ACE.