Friendly Fires – “On Board”

Friendly Fires are the first overseas band to step into our stripped-down Decomposed studio. The English band had a big year, releasing their eponymous debut on XL this past September, earning Cool points by NME, who also placed the trio at the 10 spot on their top 50 of 2008. Outside the UK, Friendly Fires made showings on year-enders by Rolling Stone and Pitchfork (via the “Paris” remix with Au Revoir Simone).

Speaking of “Paris,” here the boys give us the song in a spare but still anthemic fashion. They also offer new takes on “Strobe,” featuring a literal fixation on the light behind vocalist Ed Mac’s head and gentle keyboard/guitar accompaniment, along with “On Board,” the most guitar-and-shaker oriented of the three. The latter features backup vocals from Jack Savidge and impressive, intricate noodles by Edd Gibson. Tight. Way back when, when they were 14, Friendly Fires started as the post-hardcore band First Day Back. Like Decomposed guests the Uglysuit, FF stepped up and showed that getting to know your fellow players is helpful when you’re presenting your music without a safety net.