BY CLAIRE LANTHIER//
There’s nothing I love more than escapist music. Music that is fun, lighthearted, and danceable is so important to me this year as the rest of the world feels so heavy, tiresome, and lately especially dreary. Additionally, since I was 14 and deep in my emo phase I’ve loved the emo, diy, and pop-punk genres that my best friend from high school introduced me to, and have continued the love for this genre as I got into college and my freshman year roommate constantly had this genre playing in our room. Despite my few treasured bands in this genre, I find it can often feel a little bit stale and overdone, with bands trying to copy bands like American Football and nothing truly new being produced. California band Just Friends released their sophomore album in 2018, “Nothing but Love” and it instantly rose above, highlighting the diverse talents of all members of the band, merging genres, and most importantly to me putting a smile on my face.
Just Friends is a band unlike any other, taking influence from so many genres that they define their own sound. The album is funny, particularly with the intro skit “1-800-Chop-City” and a parody radio interview skit in the middle of the album “107.7 Kjfc”. The radio interview interlude is self deprecating, with “callers” calling in saying the album sounds like shit, makes them want to puke, and isn’t the Just Friends they ask for or the Just Friends that they love. It comes in perfect time in the course of the album, splitting it between the first and second half that take slightly different approaches, while also highlighting the lighthearted, humorous nature of the record. The flow between songs is one of the reasons I say this is a no-skip. Rather than being a collection of 13 individual songs the band produced, it is a record that flows and feels cohesive, despite the amount of influences it takes on.
My favorite song on the record is “I Wanna Love You,” which highlights the powerful voice of Brianda Goyos León, whose powerful yet sweet voice soars over the instrumentation of the rest of the band for a little over four minutes. Throughout the rest of the record, Goyos León and other vocalist Sam Kless blend seamlessly, mixing his harsh tones and her smooth ones. I love nothing more than mixed vocals like this that blend easily and well. My other favorite on the record “Sick of it All” takes more of the emo elements the band is known for and has fit in well with my 2020 attitude as everything seems to be getting worse and worse.
This is one band I would kill to see live and is definitely on my list for after the pandemic, mostly because of this album. The wall of sound from the brass, drums, and guitar in many of these songs, plus the upbeat nature and danceability of the melodies, plus the simplistic lyrics make it perfect for live performance, and I would love to see the lyrical back and forth in person — side note: stay at home this winter so we can have live shows this summer please. I’m seriously in withdrawals from my only personality trait being the amount of shows I go to.
The end of the album features some slower songs that tie in elements of emo-jazz to counter the bright, funk inspired tracks in the beginning of the record — yet another example of how the comedic interlude came at the perfect time. “Faucet” is the longest song the record, featuring a slower and more simplistic instrumentation and some self-deprecating, reflective, and painful lyrics from Kless: “I’m so filled with hate, I wish I could change / When I see me now I don’t know what 2 say / I’m trying so hard I try everyday / Sorry now is all I can say.” The jazzy horn in the background is impressive, and the song will fulfill your depressed-emo craving that I believe we all feel from time to time.
Just Friends Nothing but Love is an excellent album, featuring a combination of easy lyrics that pack a punch, funky horn and guitar, and danceability. Take a listen, you won’t regret it!