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Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
7
Manifest!
Format: MP3 Download|Change
Price:£7.99

on 7 February 2013
This review comes from an internet game. You buy an album you've never heard of from a shop. Then you write your impression of it before and after listening to it for the first time.

---BEFORE LISTENING TO IT---

WHY DID YOU SELECT THIS ONE? The sticker on the front listed a single called 'I'm His Girl.' I thought it sounded like an interesting song title. That combined with the artwork reminded me of the 'I'm Not Your Toy' music video by La Roux. I'm not a fan of that song, so I'm not sure why that made it so appealing, but it did.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE COVER? It's interesting. I'm not sure it's a good cover as the split window view is a bit trashy, and the 80s style soft focus photography is exactly the type of thing I loath the most from that era. I really, really prefer pin sharp images. I find soft focus to be very annoying and cheap looking. I assume it's the lead singer at the front of the picture. She gives off a slight New Young Pony Club vibe (a band I like a lot). She has a stuffed tiger head beside her but she's wearing leopard spot tights. There's also a sci-fi hint of Colin Baker era Dr Who to the photograph. It's a cover that is both very compelling and off-putting.

WHAT TYPE OF MUSIC ARE YOU REALISTICALLY EXPECTING? Electro pop. I expect a very strong 80s sound, like La Roux, New Young Pony Club and Little Boots.

BEST CASE SCENARIO IT WILL SOUND LIKE? It will sound like it belongs with those three bands. Hopefully they are strong songwriters who have managed to craft proper, satisfying pop songs. The singer will ideally have a great voice, or at least be distinctive.

WORST CASE SCENARIO IT WILL SOUND LIKE? The possibility seems strong that it will be a cheap, horribly produced piece of sludge with bad, underwritten songs. Also the singer might have a voice that will be painful to listen to.

HIGH, LOW OR MIDDLING EXPECTATIONS? The 80s visual side of it comes across as knowing and witty, so a notch above middling, but a notch below high.

ANY OTHER COMMENTS? Obscurity and lack of chart action have little to do with quality, but that a 2012 CD is already part of this cheap offer is not a brilliant sign.

---AFTER LISTENING TO IT---

WHAT DID IT SOUND LIKE? More or less as expected. It's 80s influenced pop music with a slightly distant, ironic smirk on its lips. The sound is quite DIY. There is a hint of The Go! Team meets New Young Pony Club. I get the impression the band aren't technically very accomplished so there's a (slightly) thrilling sense that everything's slightly beyond the competency of the musicians, so the songs could fall apart at any moment. It adds a bit of drama as they shakily progress through the songs. The production is clean with lots of space. The bass is quite prominent on some songs, such as the funky album closer 'Mind Control.' The drums are sometimes a bit like African drums that players tap from in-between their knees. The songwriting is okay. I wouldn't run to stuff any awards in their pockets just yet. The tracks have a tendency to not really go anywhere and just stop before a truly satisfying climax. The singer has a rather flat voice like the vocalist in New Young Pony Club - which I like. Her voice might not be a thing of beauty, but it has a personality attached to it. I wouldn't go as far as describing her as distinctive. Her voice is a bit low in the mix. You have to really concentrate, at least on first listen, to make out what she is saying. If your attention drifts just a little her vocals disappear into the music and you can't comprehend what she is singing. I would prefer her higher in the mix.

DID YOU LIKE IT? I do. Well worth the money. It will take up permanent residency on my iPod. I can't imagine why I would want to remove it. On first listen I would say it's above average. Within a few weeks it will probably be considered good. I don't see it climbing higher than that.

DID IT SATISFY, SURPASS OR FAIL YOUR EXPECTATIONS? It met my expectation and satisfied them.

WHAT ARE THE BEST SONGS? 'I'm His Girl' and 'Va Fan Gör Du' for its mass gang vocals. Nothing else particularly jumped out on first listen.

WHAT ARE THE WEAKEST SONGS? 'Proud/Ashamed.' It wasn't bad but I did notice that there was nothing worth noticing about it.

WOULD YOU RECOMMEND IT TO OTHERS? Yes. If like me you enjoy flat sounding female singers who are too cool to have real emotions, and you see it on the cheap, then I think you'll like it. Also I think New Order fans might like it as they come across as a band who each owns a copy of Substance.

PLEASE DESCRIBE AND SUM IT UP IN ONE SENTENCE. Emotionally reserved do-it-yourself New Order acolytes record a solid pop album.

ANY OTHER COMMENTS? I was hoping for some silly sci-fi imagery in the lyrics. I didn't get any as it's very much the usual modern boyfriend-girlfriend thing. Damn it, I want more people to sing about flying saucers and making love in zero gravity.

---A MONTH OR TWO LATER---

HOW MANY TIMES DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE PLAYED IT? A few times as an album and a lot on shuffle with other music.

HAS THE ALBUM IMPROVED OR WORSENED WITH TIME? As I predicted it climbed to good but hasn't gotten any further than that. It might not be a great album but it's very enjoyable and it's something I want to play a lot. You can't really ask for more than that.

ANY PREVIOUSLY UNNOTICED SONGS NOW A NEW FAVOURITE? 'Friend Crush,' 'Sorry' and 'A Thing Like This.'
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on 21 July 2012
If this album were just "I'm His Girl" it would be incredible, slinky, cool pop built around a terrific bassline and so UV-lit and blue-purple it's hard not to be drawn in, absorbed by the self-confident, spacey world Friends construct. But it's not, and the rest is fab too: all 38 minutes of it are groovy, percussive, signal "let the good times roll" like nothing this year so far save Sleigh Bells. Perhaps sometimes it reminds one a little too overtly of others - La Roux, The Slits, New Order - and one hopes they'll strike out on more of their own path in the future and become even better for it. But to deny the infectiousness of "Friend Crush" or the piping hot "A Thing Like This" or "Ideas on Ghosts" on the grounds that they're a tad unoriginal would be churlish and wrong. Ace.
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on 6 June 2012
The début album from Friends is a bit of a mixed bag. Not because its all over the place, rather because its so mixed in the tracks and the approaches it takes. It also, in my opinion, gets better as it goes on. The first three tracks for example are very poppy - funky and catchy. Especially the opener, Friend Crush, which I found myself humming long after it finished playing. However on tracks like Ideas On Ghosts the more mature pop sensibilities come out. That track could belong on an 80's pop album (think Talk Talk and not SAW 80's) and is a real throwback. Lead vocalist Samantha Urbani has a voice that really lends itself to the tracks here. I'm His Girl showcases the light touch and the rhythms used really well. So catchy and so easy sounding. Va Fan Gor Du sounds like the scrambled guitar of Talking Heads in the Stop Making Sense era. A really catchy and funky number.
Mind Control really does stand out though as a closing track its groove and choruses work well. In other hands this might sound very different but here it works as a very good pop track.

This is an interesting début and promises much from this band. Certainly not everything works here but what does work is good enough to warrant repeated listens.
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on 7 June 2012
I saw these guys kinda by chance recently because I wanted to show a friend, who was visiting from Germany, the venue (The Thekla, Bristol). Well...it was a great surprise! Manifest is so promising. When you hear these singles like I'm his Girl and Friend Crush it's not so often that the other songs on the album make it worth buying. But I cannot pick a real piece of filler on this record. It's such a cool mix of Cyndi Lauper, 80's Madonna with a touch of Prince....without sounding actually like any of these. But, for sure, it's bringing back the 80's vibe, the spirit of Madge and Cyndi flows here. Just check it out. You'll probably like it if you're interested enough to read this.
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on 28 August 2012
Aside from having an annoyingly ambiguous name, Friends are an `indie' band from Brooklyn who have been widely acclaimed by various sources as last year NME named them in their top 50 artists of 2011 and Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens chose their single `Mind Control' as his `hottest record in the world'. I've now listened to this album about 4 or 5 times and I still can't decide if they're quite good, or incredibly annoying. `Friend Crush', `Mind Control' and `His Girl' are singles from the album and all carry interesting melodies and exotic sounding accompaniments - a theme that is held the whole way through the album. However, `Ideas On Ghosts' and `Va Fan Gör Du' are the real gems on Manifest! as they genuinely sound different and unusual (compared to trying to sound different). Lead vocalist Samantha Urbani sings in a rather nasal tone which personally I find rather irritating, but, saying this, it works with the `hipster' style they have going on and when I saw these guys live they were completely incredible, putting on an insane show. So, if you're looking for `indie' music that is kinda great but also kinda sucks then Friends are your friends.
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on 27 June 2012
Well...I've given this a five purely on the strength of about 5 tracks which I think are phenomenal. The opening two, Friend Crush and "Sorry" are both an amazing start to an album by any standards. Other stand out tracks were Mind Control and His Girl and another where the lead singer sounds a bit like Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeah's. Admittedly, the rest all fall under the average category for me, but based on the strength and I think genius of a handful of tracks, they deserve a 5. Definitely worth the money.
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on 27 February 2016
Very good songs, quite poppy and upbeat.
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