Friendly Fires are one of those bands that will invoke a particular dilemma for Ipod afficionados: to be filed under 'Dance' or 'Indie'? Yup, this cross-genre trio close the divide between dance and rock ever further with their self-titled debut. Any eye-rolling action out there? 'Oh, another Rapture rip-off, yawn.' Well, don't douse the flames just yet because these Fires happen to be hotter than most.
New single Jump in the Pool opens proceedings and I'm still baffled why this wasn't released at the height of summer (forgetting summers don't exist in the UK anymore). With its perfect blend of percussion - carnival drums AND cowbell, ooh-er - and a euphoric chorus to boot, this could have blown up in a big way on the Balearics. It's the only track not produced by the band themselves (those honours go to Paul Epworth) but the same starry-eyed romanticism is imbued in early singles Strobe and Paris, which are the perfect club anthems for shoegazers who want to give their shoes something to do. I really wouldn't be surprised if Aqualung's collaboration with Tiësto, Ur, has acted as a jump-off point.
Anyone who has heard the band's cover of Frankie Knuckles' early Chicago house hit Your Love (sadly not included here) will welcome the band's more 'straightforward' take on crossover floor-filling. The disco-funk of In the Hospital really could be the Rapture, while On Board's looped vocal is the only constant on a Jenga tower of electronic noise and guitars that are alternately layered on top of one another then taken away. There's still room, however, for a slowed-down middle eight before the album's biggest groove erupts one final time on the very glam White Diamonds.
As enticing a prospect Friendly Fires are, especially amidst the current crop of identikit indie bands aiming at the 'dance' market, they very nearly lose momentum over ten tracks. Album closer Ex Lover doesn't drop the ball but, despite variations on a formula, the band's lyrics are interchangeable (they invariably concern young lovers a) putting on their best MySpace pouts in photobooths or b) imploding on the dancefloor) and you get the feeling that they could progress with a second album. Still, this is a commendable effort, especially considering only three young men are making this clatter. Ed Macfarlane's impassioned vocal on Lovesick resembles that of a classic house diva, just one inkling that this band have got the love they need to see them through.