Funeral For A Friend - Hours

"Hours" is an album about changing time, changing people across generational divides and ultimately it's a record by a different Funeral For A Friend that we bore witness to on "Casually Dressed and Deep In Conversation" and those early EPs. If the album didn't signify the lyrical themes then the cover art is a subtle as a sledgehammer depicting the same girl dressed through the ages, never ageing but moving and slipping into each time zone.

By now you'll have already heard the single "Streetcar", the weakest track on the album, but an obvious signifier of the new more straight up rock and less screamo direction the band have taken. Obviously influenced by Matt's time on the road it's the point of view from the girlfriend waiting at home and her thoughts laid out bare. "Your new best friends, Your confidence". As a single it's their weakest moment to date, in the context of the album it all makes sense.

"Roses For The Dead" is the song aired at last years Leeds and Reading festivals. A bare open account with Matt Davies most honest lyrics to date. "It's hard to forget how many lies we told or how we grow old before I said goodbye". It sits on the line between vague everyman lyrics and something incredibly personal and this is it's beauty. When you scan the lyrics now they're so far removed from the cryptic metaphors of the EPs

"Drive" is the bands most shockingly different moment from the past. A semi-acoustic heart-warming track that is equal parts Pearl Jam, REM and Dashboard Confessional and could see the bizarre moment when FFAF get played on Radio 2. A spacious and expansive song with lyrics about unworkable relationships and escaping from the misery. "History" follows a similar pattern with the band sounding not unlike Idlewild's recent acoustic album with the three part harmonies wrapping around a gorgeously simple melody. Would you believe it when I say that "Sonny" features a Christina Aguilera lyric of "You are beautiful no matter what they say" over a lo-fi drum syncopated machine with Davies' vocals soaring over lightly picked and trippy spaced out guitar motifs.

It's not all slow moving ballads as "Recovery" offers a polished version of the tracks on "Seven Ways To Scream Your Name". Stopping, changing and reassessing itself continually like Radiohead have taken a happy pill and cranked up the speed metal. Equally "The End Of Nothing" is driven by a pummelling rhythm section and is probably the albums heaviest moment.

As an album "Hours" stands head and shoulders above "Casually Dressed and Deep In Conversation". Despite the production history of Terry Date with the likes of Pantera and Deftones it's a remarkably polished album that is unlikely to appeal to fans who accused them of selling out when they signed to Atlantic, but if anything it captures the energy and spirit of the early releases that was lacking on the debut album. It may be a different energy, but this album is a classic of our times brimming with hooks and set to take them up to the next level

Alex McCann

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