I’m a fan of a select little niche of pop punk. The cleaner the voices, the more I tend to dislike it or just not connect. However, Red Scare Industries has been capturing a nice little segment that hits right in the middle between my proffered gruff stuff with the more up-front and happier sounding ilk (on the surface, anyway). Speaking of positivity, these three Newcastle residents (originally from Northern Ireland) call themselves Good Friend.
Good Friend plays potent and direct pop punk. The vocals are clean and bright and the harmonies fill in each chorus as the songs pound, rise to an emphatic chorus, and move on. It’s concise and unchallenging, and the album is a grower that gains favor from the first song (“Rock Bottom Revival”) to the last (“Irish Goodbyes”). There’s a charm within Adam Carroll’s vocals, with just a hint of sass in his delivery that pushes instead of piling on the sugar. It’s accessible but a touch confrontational.
On Ride the Storm the band soars, aiming at anthemic structures that build and bask in their big choruses. “The Return of Fionn and the Fianna” has a big arena-vibe and their minimal inclusion of whoa-ohs in “Overloading the Limiter” and “Young Blood” pile on with that general tone. At other times, they alternate the tempo more, like in “Daniel O’ D and the Moonshiners,” which is both faster and slower at times, using tempo dynamics that are later complemented by that big sing-along chorus. Here, they switch-up the refrain part way through the song, making it predictable but surprising at the same time – which is just what anyone exploring pop structures should be doing.
The “Bar Flies” ballad is a swing and miss, but for the most part Good Friend are making some anthemic pop punk that fills a need for an uplifting sound but doesn’t drown in its own drama. Ride the Storm isn’t reinventing anything but it’s just different enough to find its own voice. For fans of big poppy melodies that never let up on the energy.