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Review: TORN IN TWO EP by Real Friends

Photo: Danielle Parsons

I've always had a toss-up relationship with Illinois pop-punk legends Real Friends. While their discography holds some undeniably iconic emo-anthems, their full-length albums often leave songs inseparable from one another and tend to be unmemorable. I've long wondered if their new music would grip as hard around my heart as their first two albums did, and it turns out, their new EP Torn In Two did just that.

2018 release Composure saw the band immensely growing as they put their previous "I'm sad, and my knees are boney" trope behind them, favouring more matured lyrical aspects. They pushed themselves harder than ever before and nearly brought the band to the brink of collapse in the process. As much as I adore their previous vocalist Dan, as the band welcomed new singer Cody Muraro in 2020, it's like they turned on the light and took a breath of fresh air for the first time in years. Real Friends mission still hasn't changed, though, as they continue to bleed without apology. They never shy away from emotion. Instead, they let it seep through every word.

Opener Remedy for Reality immediately brings that punky urgency I adore, with tight guitars and crashing drums. Cody's vocals strike like a jab, and listening to it takes me straight back to being an angsty teenager discovering pop-punk for the very first time. The lyrics hit like a punch to the stomach with an unwillingness to surrender to the hopeless. Desperately grasping for a distraction is something I think most of us can relate to - whether caused by mental illness, the feeling of impending doom brought on by the state of the world and the pandemic or something entirely else, it's something most people can find themselves in.

When listening to the album, Teeth immediately stood out. Essentially, it embraces everything I love about the band—the ability to turn something excruciatingly heartbreaking into something so universally touching. Touching on the years leading up to Cody joining the band, he put forth a genuine depiction of someone fighting for their god damn life by stripping away any distraction. Teeth instantly took over the spot as my favourite by Real Friends, which is no small feat as my previous favourite no. 1 has been the same since 2014. The lyrics the medicine isn't kicking in, but life is kicking my teeth out on the floor again, and I'm losing it brought me to tears. After facing the longest, arguably most brutal month (if not year) of my life so far, those words hit a little too close to home.

Another song standing out to me was Nervous Wreck. It's no secret that I struggle with anxiety, and this song's just *chef's kiss* in its portrayal of spiralling into a state of isolation and disassociation. The upbeat melody helps bring a sense of restlessness and channels anger and frustration into something outside of the distress. The album's theme, being torn in two, shines brightly in Nervous Wreck, locking the door but hoping someone opens it, chasing fleeting feelings of confidence when scrambling to reconnect with a sense of familiarity.

All in all, Torn In Two is a solid indicator of what Real Friends can be. While their previous albums have varied in execution, this EP feels like the start of something new—their commitment to growth and change, all while keeping what makes them Real Friends intact, is applaud-worthy. As they move forward, I can't wait to see what the future holds for Real Friends.

Torn In Two is out now via Pure Noise Records.

Written by Eirunn Oppheim


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