Late Night Tales – Friendly Fires album review

A yearly compilation of eclectic artists and tracks, the 2012 release marks the 30th anniversary.

If only that was something to celebrate.

Occasionally tuneless (Stereolab’s The Black Arts), sometimes evocative (Change Your Style – Renee) but mostly boring overall, it does not appear as though there was any criteria for inclusion on what is ostensibly the best of folk and indie artists.

Sure, there are some tracks like Grouper’s Invisible that you could put on and dream the day away,  but you could do that with better artists who have a record full of great dreamscapes, like Gold Leaves.  Alas, nothing so sophisticated or refined here. For the shoegazer crowd, there is lots of buzzy reverb and wandering high vocals on the contribution from Melody’s Echo Chamber, Endless Shore and Nils Frahm has some nice solo piano on Over There, It’s Raining, but it is only 1:52. Most of the tracks meander wimpily around, lost and half-hearted as though this was a scratch studio disc, never meant to be released to the paying public. Friendly Fires tries to sound important and edgy on their Why Don’t You Answer? and end up annoying the listener with their sole, repeated verse.

The very best part is the spoken word at the end, a really lovely passage read with just the right amount of pause and expectation. If they released the 6:25 soliloquy as an intro to an audiobook, I would probably download chapter one, at least.

Hopefully they wouldn’t include any of the tracks here as background.

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