Friends Of Sound Rock-Ola

On paper, it all looked so very perfect. Here was a band that, I was promised, sounded like one of the early bands on Sarah Records. Some other names were thrown around too, like Galaxie 500 and the Magnetic Fields, and I was almost getting excited about hearing what Friends Of Sound had to offer. Instead, I got something that very nearly sullied the name of all mentioned. Rock-Ola is a horribly frustrating listen, because of its patchy nature - there are some wonderfully inspired moments that can almost single-handedly restore your faith in indie-pop, and then there are moments that will quite literally make you cringe and reach for the "skip" button. It doesn't quite follow the "one good song, one bad song" pattern, but it is pretty damned close. The music has that endearing lo-fi quality to it, with not quite tuneful male vocals and melodic female vocals usually hidden in the background. There's nothing particularly upbeat and most songs meander along with their rhyme-at-any-cost lyrics. When they try to do the really, really cute stuff, it all falls flat and simply becomes painful - the world doesn't really need cover versions of songs from Sesame Street (unless, of course, it is "Rubber Ducky"). That's the funny thing: I really wanted to like it before I started listening and then I really wanted to hate it after I did hear it, but all that's happened is that I'm confused. Maybe their intentions are good or maybe they are just having a laugh at our expense. No matter what kind of excuse is handed out, someone needs to convince Friends Of Sound of the merits of both brevity and quality control, before their next release. (Parasol)