Friendly Fires “Pala”

With dense, pop arrangements signaling a digression from the groups (and also the genre’s) previous new rave style elements; and opening with the lush and layered lead single ‘Live Those Days Tonight’, Pala sounds more post-Animal Collective than the post-punk dance of its eponymous 2008 predecessor. While a greater focus on complexity and production would usually be seen as positive forward step, the pale Yeasayer imitation of ‘Blue Cassette’ sounds more suited for the café than the dance-floor. The tribal rhythm and samples un-engaging placed in the albums one-dimensional sonic palate. Unfortunately, this trait is repeated throughout the album with each track from the bouncing ‘Hawaiian Air’, to the downbeat title track fused into a wash of indistinguishably similar textures.  A bland, sugary mix, Pala is as much of a failure as the doomed Huxley penned utopian society from which it takes it name. [C]

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