Single Review: ‘The Happening Sea’ by Friends of Emmet
Dublin and LA based outfit Friends of Emmet have achieved newfound success recently, with their debut album State of Mind hitting in at number six in the Irish charts, as well as some high profile TV placement on shows like Eastenders and Hollyoaks to name a few. The band continue to grow, enjoying airplay in the US, Ireland and the UK. Now, the band gear up to release their new single; ‘The Happening Sea’.
Instantly blasting us with a hard hitting and feel-good guitar riff, the tune immediately sounds like a radio hit. This main motif serves as a chorus, which is driven by the charismatically rustic vocals of frontman Mark Leddy. Not unlike the orate tones of Springsteen or Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem, his voice has that endearing stadium rock sound that goes down so smoothly. The catchy refrain of ‘I got a feelin’ tonight’s gonna be your night’ is a typically vague yet catchy pop rock line, but effectively sticks in your head after one listen.
The instrumentation is especially polished and tight, featuring some punchy strings and keys in the coda. The catchy hooks sit perfectly with the snappy feel of the rhythm section and the added drive of Leddy’s warm vocals. It’s hard not to move along to the energetic chorus, which is so good it nearly doesn’t matter what the rest of the song sounds like. Ending with an unexpected but rather awesome minor sounding section, immediate thoughts are that ‘The Happening Sea’ has the winning formula for a soft rock radio hit. It’s catchy, well produced and has you humming along subconsciously the whole way.
Two other tracks, ‘Lovelight’ and ‘Amazed’ feature as B sides, not surprisingly failing to pack as much of a punch as the main single. ‘Lovelight’ is a pleasant, gentle little number with a romantic sway about it, with some slide guitar giving it that extra country aesthetic. The latter is a piano driven ballad which showcases Leddy’s vocals more prominently. Featuring more slide guitar and some strings, his vocal chords are stretched out for all they’re worth here and it’s hard not to be lulled in, even if the song is somewhat inoffensive and forgettable.
Friends of Emmet have taken a step up with this rather impressive piece of guitar pop, but ultimately, there isn’t much new about the band’s sound here that hasn’t already been perfected by the likes of Bruce Springsteen amongst others over the last few decades. However, the charm and delightfully positive energy radiating through the single do more than enough to make us not care.
‘The Happening Sea’ will be released on 25 September 25. The band play The Olympia Theatre on 1 November, in ‘A night for Pieta House’, along with some guests to be announced.
Review by Finn O’Reilly