The Tinley Park, IL pop-punk band Real Friends has returned after the departure of vocalist Dan Lambton. With Cody Muraro joining them as a vocalist, their latest EP, Torn In Two, was released via Pure Noise Records on September 17.

The record consists of five original songs and five alternate versions of those songs. With only one song passing the 3:30 mark, the EP is a breeze to get through. It certainly has some emo influences, as well as their statement pop-punk sound.

Straight from the start, with the song ‘Remedy for Reality,’ the guitars kick in, signaling the energy of what’s about to follow. The lyrics introduce the themes explored throughout the record: desperation, weariness, and depression. The energy decreases as ‘Nervous Wreck’ begins, leaving its place for a more somber declaration of loneliness. However, with the chorus, the anger and anxiety release themselves as everything amps up.

‘Teeth’ is a raw highlight on the record, the anger completely being taken over by desperation and sadness. Influenced by Muraro’s own experiences, it is a deeply personal cut in the album. The hopelessness is prominent when Muraro declares: “I’ve tried everything, but nothing’s working.”

The instrumentation in ‘Spinning’ imitates the lack of control depicted in the lyrics. ‘Storyteller,’ in the same vein as ‘Nervous Wreck,’ starts slow only to release its energy in the chorus. The song’s anger is directed at a particular person’s betrayal and communicates strong hate for that person.

The reimagining of ‘Remedy for Reality’ takes the spirit out of the original. This is largely due to the more electronic sound experimented with on the track. On the other hand, the reimagined version of ‘Nervous Wreck’ strips the song down, which suits the song. An acoustic version might have been a better fit for this song because the pop-sounding beat in the background cheapens it.

The rendition of ‘Teeth’ with the full band unveils a new emotional aspect to the grim original: anger. I would not go as far as to say it is better than the original track; however, it has its own charm. The idea of the same song being put into different emotional contexts is executed very well on this track. Both Spinning and Storyteller are more acoustic versions of the original tracks. They both display different, more emotional sentiments than their original counterparts, which adds a bit of diversity.

Overall, the EP is quite thematically connected and explores some interesting ideas. Even with the turbulence within the band, this is a well-put-together record with compelling vocals and instruments. However, it is not Real Friends at the peak of the potential. 

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