Sean Lennon - Friendly Fire

Mike Caulfield 29/10/2006

Rating: 2/5

Having spent the past eight years since his solo debut, 'Into The Sun' collaborating with left-field and underground artist such as John Zorn, Thurston Moore, Money Mark, Vincent Gallo, Ryan Adams and even his mother, Sean Lennon releases his belated follow-up, attaching an accompanying DVD film as an attractive incentive to the downloading generation.

Much more traditional in it's arrangements than its more freeform predecessor, 'Friendly Fire' is closer in tone to the late Elliott Smith (himself massively Beatles indebted) than to Lennon senior, packed with slow burning melodies that creep up on you over time, shadowy, bitter lyrics sang with a restrained delicate delivery and some great mature laid back pop hooks.

A carrousel theme prelude introduces album opener “Dead Meat”, a darkly romantic song with the bitter jilted-lovers refrain “In the end you're gonna learn/ All you get is what you deserve”, a theme that runs heavy throughout for the most part, bubbling with romantic indignation over a lush musical backdrop, whilst “Parachute” offers the opposite, with the gentle intones of “If I have to die tonight/ I'd rather be with you.”

The second half of the record is ushered in via the all too brief album highlight “Tomorrow”, a 'cursed lovers' ballad helped along with a loving and lush Disney style backing arrangement, with Lennon wishing “Today's not too late.” This is followed shortly after by an unrecognisable reworking of a Marc Bolan obscurity “Would I Be the One”, here given a psychedelic makeover and led by an omniscient shimmering organ and sweeping string quartet backing.

'Friendly Fire' it seems is Sean Lennon's attempt to compromise with his label and reach beyond his cult audience, but this is most certainly a cult record, with few potential hit singles but plenty of great moments.