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Electronic/Dance - Released August 16, 2019 | Polydor Records

On their 2008 self-titled debut and 2011's Pala, Friendly Fires crafted a prescient sound that blended dance-punk, dream pop, and flirtations with more straightforward dance music -- and then they disappeared for eight years. While they were gone, the gaps between indie, dance, and pop that they bridged continued to shrink; listening to Inflorescent, it's clear that Friendly Fires have managed to keep up with the times and remain true to what made them stand out in the first place. It's more than a little ironic that they begin their first album in nearly a decade with a song called "Can't Wait Forever," but it immediately plunges listeners into their dance floor euphoria -- a skill they've used expertly since 2008's "Jump in the Pool." Here and on "Heaven Let Me In," an insistent homage to disco (both the original and filter-disco varieties), it feels like no time has passed since the Pala days. Though the smoother contours of songs such as "Love Like Waves" reflect the streamlined sound of the late 2010s, Friendly Fires' songwriting remains distinctive on Inflorescent. On "Silhouettes," the lyrics "All the memories of you/They bleach with the sunshine" capture the fleeting joys of a vacation fling just as vividly as its sunny vibe. At times, that vibe borders on too consistent, although it's hard to argue when Friendly Fires are so good at writing effervescent songs like "Almost Midnight." Fortunately, Inflorescent stays on the right side of the fine line between cohesive and samey, largely because the band expands their range of moods and sounds later on the album. They add a darker mood, as well an '80s synth pop influence, to "Sleeptalking," a naggingly catchy tale of insomnia and jealousy set to a spiraling keyboard hook. The band proves once again that they're in touch with dance music's roots as well as its current sound with their standout cover of Charles B. & Adonis' "Lack of Love," where robotic harmonies and old-school orchestral synth stabs add some fun twists to the 1988 house classic. Friendly Fires close Inflorescent with one of its most intriguing songs: Driven by a thumb piano melody and a moody yet idealistic feel, "Run the Wild Flowers" feels like it belongs in a dystopian sci-fi movie instead the clubs and beaches that are the band's natural habitat. This skillful balance of consistency and surprises -- as well as the past, present, and future of dance, indie, and pop -- makes Inflorescent a more than welcome return. ~ Heather Phares
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Alternative & Indie - Released August 30, 2009 | XL Recordings

On their self-titled debut, Friendly Fires serve up a very slick -- and very appealing -- mix of synth pop and dance-rock with unexpected nods to shoegaze that suggest their hard-edged, nu-rave sound might blur into something more interesting. The band crafts a big, hooky sound that loves melody, rhythms, and choruses equally, especially on "Jump in the Pool," which is just as fun and refreshing as its title suggests (the tropical-sounding drum breaks don't hurt), and "In the Hospital," a sleek track that sounds like the D.F.A. collaborating with Franz Ferdinand on an especially poppy day. For the rest of Friendly Fires, the band switches between these two approaches, and while they do a pretty good job of bringing the punk-funk, particularly on "Lovesick," this is very familiar territory that the band doesn't embellish much -- and "On Board" and "Photobooth" narrowly avoid coming off as parodies of that sound. Friendly Fires are more convincing, and more intriguing, when they give into their lush pop side. "Strobe"'s aptly shimmering guitars, flickering keyboards, and almost ridiculously pretty melody nod to M83 and New Order, and the band saves the best for last with "Ex Lover," which pits steep, tone-bending guitars and sleepy vocals against brisk dance beats, suggesting what Chapterhouse might have sounded like if they were actually influenced by house. As it stands, Friendly Fires seem to be influenced by dream pop and whatever trend is big in dance music -- "Skeleton Boy"'s bleepy keyboards borrow from the 8-bit craze -- but when the results are as immediate as this album is at its best, it's hard to slam them too much for being derivative; better just to enjoy Friendly Fires as fleeting fun. ~ Heather Phares
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Electronic/Dance - Released September 27, 2010 | !K7 Records

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Electronic/Dance - Released October 15, 2018 | Polydor Records

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Electronic/Dance - Released March 14, 2019 | Polydor Records

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Electronic/Dance - Released April 5, 2018 | Polydor Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 24, 2011 | XL Recordings

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 2, 2008 | XL Recordings

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Alternative & Indie - Released February 27, 2012 | XL Recordings

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Electronic/Dance - Released April 19, 2019 | Polydor Records

Electronic/Dance - Released April 20, 2014 | Telophase

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Electronic/Dance - Released June 7, 2019 | Polydor Records

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Electronic/Dance - Released August 9, 2019 | Polydor Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released December 2, 2008 | XL Recordings

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Electronic/Dance - Released June 7, 2019 | Polydor Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released March 2, 2009 | XL Recordings

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 7, 2009 | XL Recordings

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Alternative & Indie - Released December 23, 2008 | XL Recordings

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Electronic/Dance - Released September 29, 2010 | !K7 Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released December 12, 2011 | XL Recordings