Friendly Fires Friendly Fires

In the streaky, smoky, neon-lit space between Bloc Party and TV On the Radio there had been a narrow emptiness that Friendly Fires seem to have cleverly wedged themselves into. The UK trio are one of a few new rock bands that admittedly take their cues not only from 30-year-old rock bands but from 15-year-old dance movements as well. Spun from a Manchester that bound the awkward but groovy bedfellows of rock and rave in the late ’80s, these threads have tended to converge occasionally ever since. Friendly Fires have a lot of the "oomph” that will make them instant idols ("Paris”) but also a grasp of the atmospherics that will make repeated listening an easier option. The last piece of the FF puzzle is a Prince/funk jones that gives them a quirk factor reminiscent of early period XTC (see "Photobooth”). It all might be a little too pat and nice to break out of the NME ghetto but the right photo-op or advert appearance could turn it all around. (XL)