Friends Again

Trapped & Unwrapped

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"This train is free wheelin'/there is love on board," exclaims Chris Thompson (lead vocals, rhythm guitar) on "Lullaby No. 2," one of the most electrifying numbers on Friends Again's debut album, Trapped and Unwrapped. The unbridled glee in which those lyrics are sung could also epitomize the LP's rollicking mood. The lyrics are not always decipherable, so there might be stinging words hidden beneath Friends Again's otherwise sunny melange of funk, new wave, and country, but why ruin a good party? The band plays with contagious exuberance. "Lucky Star" moves briskly, buoyed by funky riffs and sprightly piano. The soulful guitar pop of "Lullaby No. 2" is reminiscent of fellow Scottish band Orange Juice; it is unbelievably catchy. "Sunkissed" soars with its sparkling synths and jaunty rhythms. Every track on Trapped and Unwrapped is embedded with keen hooks. Thompson's voice could be mistaken for David Bowie's; however, none of Bowie's work in the '80s was this invigorating. Surprisingly, two of the album's best songs are among its slowest. The jangly "State of Art" illustrates adolescent infatuation with a poet's ear for dialogue while the moving "Old Flame" glides over a breezy, laid-back groove. "Who needs the old flame/when I've got you, baby/burning so bright," Thompson croons, his voice emitting the warmth of a summer's day at the beach. Now imagine an entire LP like that.

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