EP Review: Fickle Friends – ‘Weird Years (Season 1)’

Reliable indie-pop to lift dwindling spirits, Weird Years (Season 1) marks the first instalment of Fickle Friends’ incoming sophomore record. At the bitter crossroads between escapism and realism, the EP sets turbulent tales of a corrupted pop culture to nostalgic, synthy downbeats, and made for a lively dissection by The Mic’s Gemma Cockrell.

Fickle Friends shot to fame when their debut album You Are Someone Else burst into the UK’s top ten. Three self-confessed turbulent years later, the Brighton quad have returned with the first instalment of a scheduled series of EP’s, titled Weird Years (Season 1). The band opted to postpone the release of their full-length sophomore LP, originally set for release in September 2020, due to touring limitations instigated by Covid-19. Instead, they will release series of EPs, marketed as ‘seasons’, inspired by 90’s sitcoms. Ultimately, these EP’s will be collated to form Fickle Friends’ sophomore album.

Unsurprisingly, the EP tackles emotions that have arisen during the past year of ever-changing lockdown restrictions. The opening track and lead single, What a Time, was evidently written in 2020, as it desperately craves an escape from reality, as lead singer Natassja Shiner confesses, “I don’t think about it when I’m getting high.” Track four, IRL, explores the immeasurable role that the internet has played during the past year, focusing on the surge of popularity that the app-based dating scene has experienced due to lockdown.

‘The colourful cut expresses the cathartic feelings of meeting someone who understands you in your entirety.’

The track is aptly titled using a text abbreviation, striking comparison between the nature of communication via the internet with communication in real life. It also captures the intense desire and craving to speak to someone face-to-face rather than over impersonal text messages – an increasingly relatable topic when listening to the track during the UK’s third national lockdown. The track’s fast, punchy pace perfectly conveys the exciting yet mysterious nature of online romantic interactions.

Weird Years (Season 1) sees Fickle Friends dip their toes into relatively unexplored territory – slow songs. The band admit that they are not huge fans of writing slow songs, therefore it may come as a surprise to fans that nearly half of the EP consists of them. 92 is an engagingly honest track, telling the story of waiting your entire life since birth to find that special someone. Shiner’s tender, soft vocals portray the pure innocence of loving someone wholly, without questioning. The track’s title, Shiner’s birth year, is deeply fitting as the song reflects on the contentment and simplicity of childhood; a time long before the complications that come with falling in love. The track is fittingly accompanied by a music video compiled of home videos from Shiner’s childhood. The second slow track is the EP’s delicate closer Finish Line, which casts a similar line to those in need during difficult times.

The track which comes closest to capturing the energy of Fickle Friends’ career highs of 2018 is the EP’s third track, Million. The colourful cut expresses the cathartic feelings of meeting someone who understands you in your entirety – who shares and mirrors your energy. Therefore, they are “one in a million”, as this is a rare connection to find. It is an upbeat and synth-heavy track with a mirthful high-energy sound and an electronic dance beat, and despite the two tracks sounding nothing alike, comparison can be struck between Million and 92 in terms of lyrical content. They were both written about the same person during the first half of 2020; Shiner started the year in a blossoming relationship that unfortunately broke down during lockdown, resulting in a slightly bittersweet listen, tinged with the knowledge that she no longer feels this way. However, backstory aside, both tracks are highlights of the EP and demonstrate the band’s remarkable versatility.

Weird Years (Season 1) definitely is not what the band were planning on releasing in 2021, and it is unlikely that the majority of these tracks would have existed had it not been for Covid-19. Tracks such as Million and IRL capture the same irresistibly catchy energy of You Are Someone Else, while What a Time falls slightly short. 92 is moving and heartfelt, standing out within the track list due to its experimental nature for a band who have always avoided writing slow songs, but Finish Line fails to replicate the same emotions of raw vulnerability. Weird Years’ core strength lies in the relatability and relevance of its lyrical themes, but it is difficult to listen to some of the tracks without striking comparison to the unprecedented success of the band’s debut record.

Written by: Gemma Cockrell

Edited by: Alex Duke

Featured image courtesy of Fickle Friends via Facebook.