Creating originality from a place of deep seeded familiarity is a fucking pain in the ass. It’s like having an obvious love for another musician or group and then trying to make something of your own, or reviewing a record that sounds too much like another band you like. Potentially passive aggressive nonsense aside, what you have before you is nowhere near my “first” impression of Dear Friend; Pt.1 by Toronto, ON based indie rock duo FXRRVST.
Before we go any further, let’s get something clear; it’s no one’s call as to whether or not your band name should or shouldn’t make sense. I get that replacing letters with other letters to make it look more artistic or unique is a massively popular move in recent history.. That being said, there was a certain level of judgement that came from looking at the word “FXRRVST” for this first time, and that judgement wasn’t “I bet they mean Forest.” Useless grumpy cuntery aside, FXRRVST essentially channel the combination of a deep dirty pleasure of mine in Paramore if they decided their next effort were to be massively inspired by acts like Ed Sheeran or Tegan and Sarah.
No, that doesn’t mean these cats aren’t sonically enjoyable, since rage quitting on reviews is such a craze these days. Think of the familiar vocal warmth, presence, and structure championed by that of pop punk warrior Hayley Williams while coexisting with the compositional arrangements of today’s more folk and indie inspired pop. Either way, this act’s typical style is one of intense influence but admittedly a bit catchy and maybe a little nostalgic.
Dear Friend; Pt. 1 is a perplexing little piece to ponder as, ultimately, it sports a nearly equal amount of damning qualities as it does redeeming ones (A point that I’ve obviously contradicted considering my score because why be straight forward when you can be a jackass). At first listen, each of these four songs feel overdone, overly familiar, and at its very worst, a bit uninspired. Some listeners would hear this and give it an outright toss. With second, third, and eventually 40th listen, you start to feel its charm and even watch the piece almost create a niche of its own to call home. Very specifically with third track “Anxiety,” we see no particularly original elements here but all things considered, this is a captivating and groovy tune while comfortably promoting the odd and quirky amalgamation of flavours that make this act whole.
Conclusively speaking, this effort has a solid quality of engineering which lends to make these tunes more digestible and is prime example of “less is more,” where it’s length lends to uplift the enjoyability of each tune and soften some harsh subjective feelings of unoriginality. Even if you can’t get around the inescapable fact that these two creatures really fucking do sound like a very re-dressed Paramore, you can at least appreciate the fact that its a fun concept and if you give it a chance, it’ll fuckin grow on you like a great many enjoyable things from the great white north. Cept winter, fuck that shit.
Written by Jason Greenberg
*Edited by Dominic Abate