Artist – Real Friends
Album – Put Yourself Back Together – EP
Year – 2013
Genre – Pop-Punk
My experience with Real Friends has been one of division. I’ve met many who don’t like them at all, and yet I’ve met many who adore them. I don’t know if I would fall into either of those categories, though I certainly do like the band and their extremely colloquial, relatable brand of of songwriting. This song speaks in the language of us at our darkest times, and it’s very moving to hear words from a band that you may have spoken yourself at one point in time. It’s one of the most emotionally raw tracks I’ve heard in a very long time, but I think that’s why so many cling to songs like this, including myself.
The whole song consists of only vocals and guitar, which in this case speaks a lot louder than a full band. It puts the words and music on such a personal level. The whole feel of this song is one on one. The clean tone of the guitar throughout the song keeps the mood low and subdued when it needs to be, like the opening lines of each verse, which singer Dan Lambton sings with melancholic passion. The quick picking transitions to hard strumming when Lambton ramps up his anguish during certain lines, and this will give you chills.
The best way to analyze this song is how the music directly ties to the absolutely amazing lyrics, written by the band’s bassist Kyle Fasel. First of all, the prechorus is one of the hardest hitting lyrical passages in the song:
I write songs about you all the time
I bet I don’t run through your mind
That last line in particular is what all of us think when a relationship with a significant other has ended. All we want is for them to think about us and take everything back that they said and did, because if only they knew how much we loved and cared about them. I think that one line, as simple as it is, perfectly encapsulates those feelings, perhaps on both sides of the breakup. The way Lambton sings that line is pure brilliance. It’s soft, almost humble. He is laying himself down at the feet of someone he would do anything for, and you feel that.
If you don’t feel it there, you’re absolutely going to feel it during the chorus:
I’ve given up on you,
But it still hurts to know you’re not alone
I’ll keep out of your life and stay awake at night
This is the most real capturing of the late nights after a breakup I’ve ever heard. Writing lyrics like this must not be easy, but it touches so many people who are hurting and who have been hurt. Those nights are some of the worst of your life, but words like these let you know that there are many others who have felt the same. The guitar here picks up in intensity, and Lambton lets it all go. It’s a burst of anguish and sadness that cuts you deep. His grit and raspy undertones show his intensity, and his imperfection. He’s human after all, and it hurts all the more.
The second verse returns to the reserved singing style and guitar, but continues with those fantastic lyrics:
It’s 4a.m. and you’re keeping me from closing these sleepy eyes
Does the thought of me keep you up at night?
Like the light on the ceiling of your bedroom
Lately, my dog’s the only one around that listens to my problems
Now I know that Real Friends use the terms “Sleepy Eyes” and “Bony Knees” a lot, but those words are things many of us can relate to. You know the feeling: it’s an ungodly hour of the morning and you just cannot sleep, no matter how hard you try. Every time you try to close your eyes, you think of that person who has broken your heart, and maybe how they might not be thinking of you, but you hope they do. If only they knew how physically and emotionally exhausted you are. They’d take you back for sure. That’s why these words hit you.
It’s been a lonely year
I can relate directly to this line. For me, it has been a very, very lonely year. I feel every word Lambton sings, and I hope many others out there know where I’m coming from with this.
The song closes out with another amazing prechorus and a final chorus that finds Lambton pushing himself to his limits. He needs to get his message across, and he will give it all to do it. The last lines echo through your head, and that’s the power of this song. That’s courage. That’s heart. It’s astonishing to hear. It’s beautiful in the way that only the heartache of life can be.
Thanks for reading, as always. Let me know what you think of the song in the comments, and be sure to share this song and blog with everyone you know!