14 Jul 2015

Best Friends / Hot. Reckless. Totally Insane. (album review)

I'll be honest, I was really ready to hate this album. Its title has only four words, but two full stops, which is extremely intimidating. I'd always pictured them as a band are a kind of summer-beach-deep-swimming-pop band, which is kind of everything I just don't want to hear. And finally, I'd heard their earlier songs, because they were going to be supported by a band I really like (Birdskulls) and I was painfully underwhelmed. So really, I didn't think this record would even be worth my time, and it'd just be a kind of messy indie record without any real substance. But hey, I'm happy to admit that I was so wrong about it all.

Hot. Reckless. Totally Insane. is the debut record of one of Sheffield's leading DIY bands, Best Friends. They've never really seemed that interesting to me, Best Friends, but now, a week or so after their debut's dropped, I can't help but be wowed by them; their music is just the absolute epitome of fun summer pop; you can keep yr Circa Waves and Swim Deeps. This band are the real deal as far as summery beachy indie rock comes, and whilst like all other bands a bit like this, their sound can be traced back to the first Drums EP, unlike a lot of those bands, this really isn't a bad thing.

Unlike lots of the bands I've already mentioned, at times, Best Friends are more than happy to turn up the fuzz and make grungier surf-rock, as opposed to the surfy indie pop that you'd expect if you went on their soundcloud and clicked on the first song you saw (which would be Cold Shapes, the worst song on the album). Nope; they're a different kettle of fish. Their sound on Hot. Reckless. Totally Insane. may revolve a lot around simple drum patterns and rumbling basslines, but ultimately it's an album rich in dynamic variety that you can easily listen to a few times without getting bored.

And it's not like it's all even the same. There's a lovely 2 song streak of Dr Mario and Baba Vanga that both utilise a kinda post-rocky guitar tone that sounds deliberately otherworldly; like someone's held Explosions in the Sky at gun point and told them to write a pop song.

If You Think Too Much Your Brain Will Fall Out is pretty much a scuzzy fuzzy manifesto for the band. It's like, don't think about shit because it's better when you don't think, which is kind of what this album's about; if you think about it too much it gets boring, but like US contemporaries FIDLAR and Wavves, this record is just bloody good fun if you let it happen. With this attitude, even their debut single Nosebleeds (which bored me the first time round) is a fun, danceable example of warm, fuzzy beach rock.

And unlike the sorta summer-pop UK bands that I wouldn't poke with a stick (OK some of them aren't that bad), a lot of Best Friends' songs have a loose, different song structure. Opener Fake Spit has an overlong intro that, like Cross the breeze by Sonic Youth or Goin' Against Your Mind by Built To Spill, seems to search around sonically for it's sound before exploding with some verse-chorus type stuff that goes on for about as long as the intro does... And then you've got Orange Juice, the classic post-punk album-slash-set closer; it just kinda escalates, from a hangover of messy guitars to a self-assured sonic assault of Mudhoneying proportions.

Sure, it's not innovative, boundary pushing stuff, but it's a really enjoyable, pretty intense listen, that'll blow releases by Swim Deep (definitely), Wavves (most certainly) and (probably) FIDLAR out the water because in terms of being a brilliant fuzzed out surf-punk record that makes Summer seem less of a no-black-jeans inconvenience and more of a great season to have barbecues and go to the beach, it's untouchable. If you like summery music and having a good time, this is a hot, reckless, and totally insane record that really is worth your time.


(written by calum cashin)