Friendly People – “Shake” Review
“Energized, experimental chamber pop with summer-vocals and shimmering guitars”
Cambridge, MA’s Friendly People tapped twenty musicians to record Shake. The result edges the quartet closer to the experimental horizon, more Dirty Projectors than Vampire Weekend, yet both influences can are heard.
The strength of Shake lies in the use of complex instrumentation, which rhythmically swirls and folds melodies around ambushing instrumentation and tempo changes (“Here We Are” and “Maps”).
The difficulty in writing big songs lies in honing succinctness. Most songs on Shake clock in over five minutes. Certainly, some could dive in sooner, but the extraordinary variance and melodic character rises above any residual self-aggrandizing; the songs are catchy.
Stylishly employed guitars, banjo, percussion and horns are scattered throughout Shake, baring the specter of Americana roots while the band surveys the edges of pop and experimental genres. Singer Pat McCusker approximates Ezra Koenig (Vampire Weekend) in his boyish lyrical interplay with fiery heaves of instrumentation, uniting and bridging the rambling background. “Branches” showcases one of the album’s strongest songs, which initially tugs the heels of bedroom folk, slowly throbbing into a dazzling arch of acoustic and electric guitars, pounding rhythms and warm harmonic embers. Shake offers a blissful crunch of pop-listenability and furtive experimental tinkering, resulting in surprising cohesiveness.
Produced & Engineered by Friendly People
Recorded at the Record Company and The Friendly House by Friendly People
Mixed at The Friendly House by Mitchell Stewart and Andrew Sarlo
Mastered at Peerless Mastering by Jeff Lipton