It's all about the melody on Potentially Violent, from the Israeli - American band Friends Of John's, citing R.E.M., Red Hot Chili Peppers and John Frusciante as touchstones. This means memorable, hummable guitar lines over which poetic, lyrics are hung like deflated balloons on barbed wire. Of course, The Chili Peppers and R.E.M. haven't been perceived as entirely cutting edge in a couple of decades, but we must unacclimate ourselves, to hear fresh and new, to better seek the merits and call the shortcomings.
We forget how weird, warped, and wonderful the Chili Peppers were, especially around the Blood Sugar Sex Magic era. The singer's voice has a similar chorus-type effect, a strange warble that actually sounds experimental and interesting since every band on Earth stopped adopting it.
Friends Of John's would've done better to stick to the Dinosaur Jr. and Alice In Chains, as far as influences, because shades of Saves The Day and Dashboard Confessional start to creep in, and my critical biases start to sharpen their claws on my eardrums. I know, I know that we're supposedly in the midst of an emo revival, and all the people who've already burned through their Mineral and Rites Of Springs re-issues will thank their lucky constellations for this gem, but for this reviewer, once a certain level of whine is crossed, any chance that I will enjoy the record are entirely gone.
To make a long story short, I really like the slower, more atmospheric stuff, particularly album opener "Send Someone Else To Thank Them" and "Slice Bread The Sequel". The more upbeat numbers sound like scraps from Weezer's cutting room floor, however, or a blasted, bloated Hootie And The Blowfish knock-off, left to attract flies in the sun.
Even when I don't enjoy their style, there are interesting elements to Friends Of John's production - the flutes of "All About", the harmonics that call the album to order on "Send Someone Else To Thank Them", as well as the strings. It's clear that time and attention has been spent on this album, the performances are all totally on point and well executed, and the recording is excellent. I feel like they're most successful when they're atmospheric, but that could just be a matter of differing opinions.
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