Divided by Friday has made their move from pop-punk rookies to melodic pop up-and-comers. The trio, who have toured with pop-punk standouts All Time Low and Hit the Lights, have previous releases that were covered in heavy guitars and drums. But their latest EP, Modern Memoirs, is stripped of rock and replaced by strings and synth, letting their Top 40 chops shine.
Lead singer Jose Villanueva’s vocals sound like Brendon Urie and Sameer Gadhia took lessons from Patrick Stump. His voice is captivating and perfect for the pop tunes DBF creates. The EP is made of six longing love and loss songs that are dramatic, hooky and will have many spinning the record on repeat.
It starts with an easy intro from “You Fooled Me,” showcasing Villanueva’s range and the bands bright sound. With an intro that seems cut for an expensive car commercial, “Free Tonight” takes a page out of the One Republic or Secondhand Serenade playbook with deep string voices that meld into an electric beat. “Relapse’s” driving piano make it a sure to-be favorite on the album, while “Rhythm of the Room” sounds like it belongs in a dance club and will get you moving, but with lyrics that are much more gentlemanly than your average pop song (“Hey, I really wanna get to know you.”) The stand out is “Better Off” with catchy lyrics and an unmistakable pop breakdown that will stick to the back of your brain for days to come. Ending on a happy note, “Longer than Forever” wraps up the album and leaves you smiling on the orchestra outro.
Though the album is polished and addictive, writing pop songs that stand out among the crowd is no easy feat. The growing pop music trend of incorporating classical elements like piano and strings is certainly in DBF’s corner, however, the bar has been set high by predecessors of the genre. Modern Memoirs is a tentative first step in what the band has clearly wanted to write all along but managed to hide behind a pop-punk blanket. If this EP is any indication of what we can expect from DBF’s full length, we’re in for what’s sure to be one of the top pop albums of the year.
Listen to: Better Off
Divided by Friday
Review by Stephanie Roe