Sound — 4
I have been ignoring my conscience for the last two months concerning this album, Memory and Humanity by Funeral for a Friend, and I have been avoiding the idea of reviewing it persistently. But at the same time, I've had this odd yearning towards the same intent and idea, and yes, that probably makes me a very nasty person, but what the hell, eh? As this is one of the worst albums I have ever owned, from one of the greatest bands I have ever known, I fear the thought of digesting it any further. But the need to explicate my direct emotions in a plain and simple manners grabs my testicles tighter than any concern I have for myself. I know that sounds cheesy and utterly dramatic, but in a way, that very process is an effective tool in which to express the similar directions FFAF have decided to take. Characterless and drab are the most keen words opening my mouth so violently at this point in time. Not only is the recording altogether safe sounding, it absolutely pulls no punches or tricks, that are supposed to involve the mind of the listener. It plays like it's been written by a group of people who don't care for music at all. Who just write albums as it's their job, because they're paid good money to do it. And there is this galling worry that the crew behind Memory and Humanity actually just want to get home to watch the Manchester play Arsenal match. When you compare this to Tales Don't Tell Themselves, a record that faced similar, aggravating quibbles from the die-hard fans of the 2003-2006 era, and which also felt a little stale and insipid, you are still conscientious of the cute attraction for that particular piece compared to this piece of nonsense. I even feel guilty examining the two albums together like this as Memory and Humanity pales in comparison, it really does, and I wasn't even much of a fan of Tales... (I found it to be pretentious and a little cheap in parts. But it was still decent enough to warrant the money for the CD and for the accompanying show in Dublin)
Lyrics — 6
You Can't See The Forest For The Wolves - This is the title for the track that is about the only moderately impressive thing FFAF have released. I don't really need to say much more. Once again, it's unfair to compare the likes of Hours (their second LP) to this, but it may be the only way I can fully entertain you enough to believe me. Look at the intensity of the words from Roses for the Dead and She Drove me to Daytime Television (from Casually Dressed and Deep in Conversation - arguably their most momentous moment) and simply place it beside To Die Like Mouchette and Kicking and Screaming? Yes, the lyrics are not bad (in fact, they're quite intelligent and experienced), but the title's are just atrocious. I have always been an avid fan of the overwhelming and potent sense of desperation and honesty in Funeral for a Friend, but I don't feel emotion from these words at all, even though they are clearly more acute and more thought out. The energy is gone, in other words. Maybe, because of how the music is so lame, the lyrics have then suffered accordingly? I don't know for sure, but I do know it does happen in this industry regularly, where either the music or the lyrics take the back seat, as the worst of the two takes control and forces negativity upon the reader, never allowing them to enjoy anything individually. A disappointment, but not a failure.
Overall Impression — 5
The awful album art, the self-absorbed song titles, the lifeless guitar tone, the barren, yet grating voice, the basic drum beats, the overused song structures, the sad attempts at sounding different, the tasteless themes - it's all part of this magnificent waste of clear talent and prestige. Beneath The Burning Tree - listen to it, and try and force yourself not to laugh at the crummy, rip-off riffs, unfortunately reminiscent of Iron Maiden and Biffy Clyro - two fantastic bands with boundless vitality. Someday The Fire... - listen to it, and try and force yourself not to cringe, or bring about crows feet a little too early for your age. Waterfront Dance Club - listen to it, and try to ignore the mushy and unnatural recording and song writing. Listen to Constant Illuminations and Constant Resurrections... actually don't bother, just read the titles and walk away. You're not missing much, anyway. Constant Illuminations is a good track but doesn't fit the album at all. Rules and Games - ignore the hilariously piteous intro build-up and the corny chorus, and you don't have a bad song. It has a few quirky rhythms and interesting breakdowns, so it's not all bad news on the 'Funeral Front'. Kicking and Screaming sounds so much like other bands it's laughable, yet, it's crap. To Die Like Mouchette - I quite like the chorus melody, it has a nice charm to it. Just stay away from the repetitions, vexing riff and the accompanying inconspicuous title... which are in fact, all major segments to a song, so you're kind of screwed on all fronts, really. When Maybe I am comes through the speakers, you have, for a few seconds, a change in pace and a break from the hokum, but unfortunately, everything returns to it's overtly joyous and sanctimonious self quite quickly. Building sounds like a bad rendition of a Feeder track. Charlie Don't Surf reminds me of someone arrogantly dropping by a jam session and rudely putting out the idea that they should do a soft song, you know, to break up the album? It's entirely constrained, in other words. That said, it's not a terrible track in itself, like it's following Ghosts and the ending Constant Resurrections If you are hoping for a return to flavour, you will be even more let down than you were with Tales Don't Tell Themselves. This a dead band, or more importantly, this is a dead album, I haven't put FFAF out to the dustbins quite yet. Besides, three downright awesome albums, one I am indifferent towards, and one useless, regurgitated slush of noise is not all that bad. I'm hopeful that in the next few years, there will be a rediscovery and they will entice out the bristling and down to earth energy that was so evident in their EP Seven Ways to Scream your Name. I'm watching this space...