AS ED MACFARLANE, the boyish frontman of Friendly Fires, dances around my computer screen with little constraint, I can't help but wonder if my kindergarten-style crush is still eating paste. That statement, though seemingly discrediting, is actually laudatory. There is something painstakingly earnest about this British boy from St. Albans, and in his band something reminiscent of the good old days of post-punk and electro-pop. Much like their porch-sitting predecessors New Order, Friendly Fires has assumed command over the dance song and put it back to work for its original purpose. No cheap contrivances, nu-rave revisionism, or high-cheek-boned male-model synth rock—Friendly Fires are merely a collection of Brits interested in making the walls of concert rooms collect condensation.
Their first LP, self-titled and released on XL Recordings, comes fully equipped with an arsenal of hits. "Skeleton Boy" is a fleshed-out infectious breed of disco, bound to gum up your ear canals, only to come back out through your mouth in a muddled hum for days afterward. "White Diamonds" has a rock sensibility (rock-ability?) similar to that of our old friends and guitar/synth pioneers the Cars. Their most recent single, "Kiss of Life," pays homage to some of the first dancers ever to pound the earth with incessant tribal beats and many a nod to Mother Earth as well.
In each song captured to tape in their brief career, Friendly Fires establish an undeniable soul that peers out from underneath the layers of digital and analog instruments that pulsate alongside bass lines funky enough to make Bootsy Collins quiver. And best of all, almost all of their songs (save for a few remixes) are less than four minutes long; no welcome ever gets worn out, and more likely leads to repeated plays. Tonight you might be exhausted from your inability to break from dancing, so for heaven's sake, drink some water with your whiskey and enjoy the show.