Pala - XL
FILTER Grade: 77%
By Zachary Sniderman on May 23, 2011
When Friendly Fires arrived several years ago, their expansive, electro-flecked tunes offered a uniquely upbeat take on feeling down on yourself. On Pala, the British trio seems to have found happiness. The album blends layers of African-influenced percussion with Fires’ two trademarks: sweeping synths and Ed MacFarlane’s elastic delivery, all howls and feminine falsetto. The masterful balance of volume and pace are missing, though. Instead, Pala can feel like a musical game of Jenga, over-stacked with riffs, samples and production. “Hurting” is too cluttered to find a groove and “Hawaiian Air” sounds like it’s actually meant to annoy. Still, there are the gifts that make it worthwhile. “Running Away” attacks and subsides in all the right places, “Pull Me Back to Earth” nails the switch from percussion to soaring chorus, and lead single “Live Those Days Tonight” is an odd, infectious call to the dancefloor. Friendly Fires are still learning how to control their talents, but boy can they move.