Why is Sean Lennon’s Friendly Fire on my best 1,000 albums ever list?
If you’re in the mood for a melancholy, quiet, pretty album with a Beatles-y vibe (and with literal Beatles-y lineage), Friendly Fire fits the bill.
Some stats & info about Sean Lennon – Friendly Fire
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Indie Pop, Indie Rock, Alternative Pop, Rock
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
- All Music’s rating – 2.5 of 5 stars (more on this below!)
- When was Friendly Fire released? 2006
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #995 out of 1,000
Sean Lennon’s Friendly Fire on Spotify
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective take on what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.
What does Sean Lennon’s Friendly Fire mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?
There’s a pleasing indie pop sound here that clearly shows that Sean picked up or inherited a thing or two from his famous poppa (and momma too – in fact Yoko Ono was involved in the making of this album). And there’s a clear sadness underlying most of its songs that’s compelling and gets more interesting upon multiple listens.
It’s the kind of album where no songs particularly stand out among the others – though I’d wager the first four (“Dead Meat,” “Wait For Me,” “Parachute,” and the self-titled “Friendly Fire”) are the strongest.
Since I’m a maniac Beck fan, I kind of slotted Friendly Fire between his two super melancholy albums (Sea Change, Morning Phase) and the dreamier, whimsical Mutation from a vibe and emotional standpoint.
This album also sounds like
For obvious reasons, there’s strong Beatles influence here in addition to other 1960s bands, particularly The Beach Boys. But there’s a nice blend of 2000s indie rock sensibility that gives it its own sound. And as I mention above I’m reminded of Beck’s mellower and melancholy albums.
Personal stuff and pop culture stuff that’s somehow related to Sean Lennon’s Friendly Fire
I helped run a blogging community called Blogcritics some years back, and one of the great joys of that gig was getting to meet bloggers from around the world. One such fellow is named Aaron McMullan, a fantastically unique writer and musician both. He hails from Northern Ireland, and we became friends over many e-mails and the occasional video call, but it was an incredible pleasure to get to meet him when my wife and I got over to Europe for a trip around the Irish isle several years ago.
In addition to meeting his lovely then fiancé and daughter, we quickly fell into the same pop culture banter and conversational rhythms that we had for so long conducted from separate continents. I mention all of this because I recall discussing the difference between art and artist: can they separated, and should they be separated when considering their artistic output? Well, the answer to the first question in reality is “mostly no” and the answer to the second, to borrow from Run-D.M.C., is “it’s tricky.”
Michael Jackson is a great example here, of course. Do we “downgrade” our appreciation of his artistic output based on what we learned about his personal life over the years? It’s not a simple question to answer, right?
Jackson is a great example because he’s a clear example. What if, though, an artist had the temerity to take eight years off between albums, and what if he had even more temerity to write a breakup album (a breakup, by the way, that involves his girlfriend sleeping with his best friend, the latter of whom wound up subsequently dying in a motorcycle album) years after the breakup took place? And then, for the cherry on top, what is that artist is the son of one of the most famous musicians and public figures of all time?
All of this was on my mind when reading Thomas Erlwine’s largely negative, somewhat odd review of Friendly Fire on All Music. After considering the album and the context behind which it was made, Erlwine concludes, “it’s a pleasant but forgettable arty pop record made by a guy who has some promise but little discipline.”
Obviously, I disagree, and in fact I enjoy it more every time I listen to it. And maybe it helped that I wasn’t burdened with the “baggage” that Erlwine was seemingly weighted down by in considering Lennon’s work.
I suppose that also speaks to the potential benefit of “distance” in considering art. There’s distance in the form of not knowing the context around which the art was created – which certainly there can be great potential benefit in understanding, of course – but there’s also the distance of time.
In any event, this 2006 album sounds pretty great to me in 2021 and will be in my rotation for some time to come.