Fickle Friends relive lost time, youth in ‘Are We Gonna Be Alright?’

Angela Lim, Life & Arts Reporter

Four years after the release of their debut LP, You Are Someone Else, Fickle Friends returned to the music scene with the 12-track collection Are We Gonna Be Alright? on Jan. 14. On the album, the British quartet presents a confident contrast to their usually bright indie pop and electronic genres, growth indicative of the group’s constant musical experimentation during the pandemic.

The album erupts with the gritty guitar riffs of “Love You to Death,” sultry and vulnerable in lyrics such as, “I am the storm you climb inside of / And you’re alive as long as you’re here in my head.” Combining fun backing vocals, texture changes and a shredding interlude that screams the 1980s, this bold opener gives listeners a taste of the band’s refined sound.

The LP’s newer tracks showcase the quartet’s evolving creativity in songwriting and composition. “Not Okay” undergoes an electric change in mood during the chorus, its melody blending into a triplet-heavy meter to mirror a sunken state of mind. Meanwhile, the funky B-side, “Glow,” exults in salvation, referencing divine imagery over lively synths and bass. “Write Me a Song,” a grungy addition to Fickle Friends’ discography, rouses with its power chords, dynamic percussion and an addictive hook worth headbanging to. The band definitely proves to be capable of elevating the energy beyond their prominent style.

While traversing their newfound artistic path, the quartet still manages to keep their synth pop identity. “Pretty Great,” the most streamed track on the album, puts listeners in high spirits with its bouncy, feel-good intro and singable chorus. It also includes relatable lyrics such as, “Now I’m alone and I feel so dead / Wish I could be talking to you instead.” On the other hand, “IRL” is most reminiscent of Fickle Friends’ 2018 music, characterized by dreamy, pulsating rhythms that never get old.

Despite its more upbeat instrumentals in the first half, the album leaves listeners with an overarching impression of comfort, especially with its final songs. In “Listen,” lead vocalist Natti Shiner tries to empathize and reach out to her audience, singing, “Whenever you think that you’re not good enough / And everything seems so hard to rise above / Come on confide, confide in me.” The album’s title track, “Are We Gonna Be Alright?” captures wistfulness and healing in its gentle vocals and almost disorienting piano, signifying change through life’s most vivid moments. It raises the question of whether or not we’ll be as hopeful once everything fades.

Are We Gonna Be Alright? serves as an ode to youth and lost time. Revisiting human experiences that seem lightyears away, Fickle Friends offer their audience an answer amid a time of uncertainty: Everything’s going to be just fine.

4 bullet strats out of 5