At last. The release of You Are Someone Else marks the moment when one of Brighton’s very finest bands of recent years deliver on all that potential. Those years spent honing their craft run through the very core of this highly polished and supremely confident debut album. It perfectly captures the essence of millennial life, taking in everything from personal insecurities, the ups and downs of relationships and, of course, just having fun. The start of British Summer Time may be looming, but Fickle Friends have beaten the clocks by ushering in summer with this fantastic album.
Opener ‘Wake Me Up’ sets the tone from the start, icy synths layered over a great club beat while Natti Shiner sings of a failing relationship (“Someone call it now and pull me away, I’m just waking up”). As with the following ‘Glue’, it is clear that Fickle Friends belong to that group of artists that pull their influences from the late 1980s – the beauty being that they have brought that sound bang up to date. Including ‘Glue’, there are at least half a dozen tracks that will be familiar to many, though, at 16 tracks long nobody will be feeling short-changed. Such is the strength of those former singles, however, that it would have been perverse to leave them off this. They are like trusted old friends coming with you to a Freshers’ Week – while you want to meet everybody for the first time and get to know them, a touch of familiarity instantly puts you at ease.
If ever a debut album instantly captured a band’s essence, it is this. Every track resonates with a bounce and a skip in its step, nestling into your ears with irresistible hooks. Front-loaded with stone cast bangers like ‘Swim’, the album gets off to a flyer with a momentum that hardly drops throughout. Like the very best pop music, it is multi-layered. Life for 99.9% of the world isn’t about non-stop parties and fast cars, with countless pressures weighing down on millennial life instead – and so it is here. Singer Natti Shiner has described it as a record that deals with, “The feeling that you don’t belong in your own life”, and that plays well on the likes of ‘Hard To Be Myself’ with its hints of having to resort to self-medication to cover insecurities. It is the dog days of relationships that are looked at more than getting together, ‘Heartbroken’ wears that damaged heart on its sleeve in one of many tracks that has an honesty and openness to it (“Cos I’m so heartbroken, I’m sick of being so open to anything you throw at me”).
There is a sunny optimism to You Are Someone Else, a message even on the sadder songs that you will always pull through and a sense that everything will always be OK. Singing: “Not submissive like I always was” on ‘Bite’, there is a feeling that Natti is done with being messed around, as there is on the snappy ‘Useless’. Yet, it is far from just being about Natti, as the music surges and throbs around her, making this all feel like a consummate indie-pop album for the ages. All that promise, all that potential, all those gigs that have had the crowds rushing back home to rave about, it’s all been poured into one superb album. Fickle Friends could be about to catapult themselves into the big league as CHVRCHES and The 1975 did before them, it is that good. 2018 is theirs for the taking.