By: Eric Greenwood
There are few shticks in rock that I despise more than the oxymoronic sensitive tough guy; it’s just so contrived and played out. (Alex may be on fire and everything, but he’s still a total wuss.) Funeral for a Friend is the Welsh answer to mall-safe, American emo that is sugarcoated for MTV acceptance and practically begging for teenage adoration.
The production on Casually Dressed & Deep in Conversation is sickeningly slick. The guitars are overdubbed so many times that they negate themselves into a wash of the most un-rocking wall of blah imaginable, and the vocals sound like Air Supply in the verses, only to erupt into laughable screaming in the choruses. It’s a terribly embarrassing style and completely schizophrenic. The screaming is so unnecessary and out of place amidst so much lyrical sobbing: “Take a gun called hate up against your heart and pull the trigger.” It’s pure teenage dross.
The fact that the singer is wearing a Black Flag T-shirt inside the booklet is a crime against punk. There is absolutely no way this guy has ever listened to Black Flag because, if he had, he’d be way too embarrassed to be in this band. And the cover art is just abominable. It looks like a sad interpretation of the worst Pink Floyd artwork mixed with ’80s pseudo art-rock like Asia or something.
The worst part is that these songs are hooky enough to lure kids with no reference points as to what is good, but that in no way justifies its inherent scam. Admittedly, hopping on a bandwagon as lame as commercialized emo is a smart strategy for an English band, and Funeral for a Friend is the first notable export to blend right in with ubiquitous mall emo-punk like Saves the Day and Alexisonfire. This is the fake type of band you listen to when you’re 13, clueless and utterly undiscerning.