I’ve been sitting on this question for some time now, desperately hoping that at some point (preferably before deadline) enlightenment would hit like lightning from the heavens above. Yet alas, no matter how hard I ponder it, I’m no closer to an answer to this, most infernal of riddles. So I’m turning it over to you, reader of this article.
It’s a question I didn’t overly concern myself with until I interviewed them at Bestival ’11. Casually opening the conversation as I settled into my seat on the top floor of their red, double decker bus, before I started hitting them with the real zingers, I asked if they were dressing up this year (the theme, if you can cast your mind back, being pop stars, rock stars and divas).
The answer from Ed: “Um, no.”
“Although I believe the theme is rock or pop star,” Jack mused, “so we could walk free on a technicality. “
“Stars though,” Ed pointed out.
“We could just be badly dressed rock stars. There you go!”
“A leather waistcoat and nothing else would be great tomorrow. “
“Dingle hanging out!”
Modesty aside, it thus occurred to me: how the devil do Friendly Fires remain so chronically underrated?
Let’s examine their star credentials, shall we?
For starters, we’re sat backstage at the RizLab stage where they’ve been asked to curate their own bill: ‘The Past, Present and Future of Dance Music.’ “Rizla came forward to us and said would you fancy curating a night when you get to choose all the artists and we’ll pay for it and we said yeah! Simple as that really,” Jack explains. “We’re all avid fans of dance music, so for us to share a stage with heroes of ours is an honour.” And despite the early hour (mid afternoonish) they’ve already got people dancing. Nor are they content to remain behind the scenes as, later that evening, Ed will make it out on stage with Lone, as part of his ongoing collaboration, “I had already agreed to sing on one of his tracks already and it’s kind of sped up the process,“ before all three Fires perform their own set.
Then there’s their second album, Pala, which Ed describes as, ““Overtly bright and sheeny and more pop,” which has recently been released to critical acclaim. “I think we’ve just booked our third night at Brixton and that’s selling really well, so for it to have that effect on a live level is much greater than anything I’d have expected. “
“I think it has a dance floor energy.” Jack expands. ”As most of our music does, but we also wanted to push the pop end of it even further.”
“We were very conscious of everything being very concise and within a three and a half minute pop song structure. I think if it goes on for longer than that you have to question how good the song is,“ Ed adds.
And let’s not forget the distinctly rock starish bed downstairs, covered in a zebra print duvet that surely, if you t’were peel it back, would reveal the imprints of recently deflowered and vacated groupies and possibly their knickers, optimistically inscribed with phone numbers and left behind as keepsakes, no?
“It was as much of a surprise to us as you. I’m guessing there’s a mattress under that duvet. Bed of snakes or something…“
Finally (and this is the real clincher), there’s Hurting’s spot on Lauren Conrad’s work out playlist. Don’t ask me how I know that; it’s better not to.
Surely, if nothing else, all this suggests they should be striding into the limelight, grabbing Rhianna by the balls and producing her next album? Yet, despite a reputation as purveyors of the most danceable of alternative dance pop, Friendly Fires remain bopping away on the fringes of our consciousness, perennially tipped as the next big thing, yet seemingly overshadowed by their peers.
I’m stumped. I hereby hand it over to you.