yr friends – yr friends over you

yr friends johnny foreigner

yr friends is Alexei Berrow from Johnny Foreigner’s solo project. The band name and song titles are all displayed in lower case – a perfect example of the more uncluttered and acoustic-based sound that features on this Bandcamp EP (although it does drive spellcheck up the wall…). Throughout the five tracks, Lex gets to offer his views on modern society, politics and much, much more…

‘cities with libraries’ opens the EP with traffic sounds, blaring sirens and arguments from the streets of Lex’s hometown Birmingham. This noisy, polluted ambience is then poised up against his delicate, lilting vocals and Owen-style guitar melodies that seem to lament the loss of: ‘Cities with libraries open on Sundays’ and how ‘a hotel doesn’t feel like home anymore’. With its Casio keyboard sounds and talk about how ‘my failures are cemented’, ‘tom doesn’t work here anymore’ offers a look at growing up and drifting apart from the people who used to be amongst the most important in your life. From not realising people you know were getting married to those who have had kids you had no idea about, it’s a touching song that also offers some sly and cutting observations on the state of our generation: ‘We’re the generation who taught them how to sell themselves like shit in shops and it’s overstocked’ and the unease of pretending to like a friend’s band: ‘One gave us MDMA, but wrote songs that made us cry’.

‘five more years’ was written in the wake of the Conservatives’ General Election victory and is full of soundbites that display the fears many of us have over the next half a decade. Opening with protest crowd chants of ‘Shame on you, shame on you’, the spoken-word soundbites, glitchy guitar and keyboard drums all combine to show what an uncomfortable place our country is to live in. In a style similar to Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, Lex states: ‘We are going backwards’ and then provides a list of how: ‘We know they’re lying about statistics because Google. We know they’re lying about people because Facebook. We know they’re lying about London because Twitter’ to show how we live in a world governed by social media and dirty secrets can no longer be hidden by people in authority. There’s a touch of heartbreak in his voice when Lex states with a sigh: ‘Straight, white, adult, male. I am England, mate.’

After all the politics, the EP looks at the pain of musical heroes hanging around too long on the plea to Brian Molko, ‘new placebo is shit’. With references to Top of the Pops and how much of an exciting band the androgynous singer fronted 18 years ago, Lex reveals: ‘I respect how you still carry on, now that most of those weirdos have grown up and gone’, before stating how the new songs they play are: ‘shit, toothless and weak’. Reminiscent of Dave House’s song that saw him turn his back on someone who liked Klaxons, it finishes with a tongue-in-cheek line about how: ‘Now all those cool bands you rip off are the same cool bands we rip off…’ before referencing one band JoFo have always been associated with…

The lo-fi sound of ‘what toronto isn’t telling you’ is altogether more melancholy and surpisingly optimistic as Lex fondly recalls staying at stranger’s houses and how: ‘I’ve seen enough to make you fall in love with every community’. As it eases back into the city-lead noises that opened the EP, you can tell this peace won’t last for long. ‘yr friends over you’ is an EP full of thoughts and reflections on the world and culture we live in today… It’s one that deserves your attention.

Buy yr friends – ‘yr friends over you’ via Bandcamp here.

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