In "Hawaiian Air," Friendly Fires' Ed Macfarlane recalls a helicopter ride in the mountains gone awry.
In "Hawaiian Air," Friendly Fires' Ed Macfarlane recalls a helicopter ride in the mountains gone awry. David Lau
Song: "Hawaiian Air"
Artist: Friendly Fires
With the release of its brainy, body-rocking 2008 debut album, the band Friendly Fires established itself among England's hottest dance-rock exports. The album mixed singer Ed Macfarlane's heart-tugging confessionals and existential dread with life-affirming grooves that borrowed liberally from Afropop, funk and disco. It was dance music for the Oxford University crowd.
The group continues that hot streak with its second album, Pala, which gets an added production boost from Paul Epworth. The album's clear highlight, "Hawaiian Air" finds Macfarlane recalling a travelogue about a helicopter ride in the mountains gone awry. (Friendly Fires may be the first band ever to make a song about gin-and-tonic-induced airsickness sound so jubilant and fun.)
While Macfarlane is left moping about his barf bag, his able backing players turn out one of their fiercest and trickiest grooves yet: four minutes of syncopated bass and drums, zooming synth melodies and effervescent atmospherics. Along the way, if "Hawaiian Air" causes listeners to feel slightly lightheaded, well, that's exactly the point.