Pop punk powerhouses, Real Friends, are masters of regret on latest release

The new Canadian lead singer maintains the intensity of the original

At There’s nothing worse than being latepop-punk heavyweights Real Friends trade more of their punk roots for cleaner, brighter guitars and evoke a poppier sound while retaining the thoughtful, emotional lyrics they’ve become known for.

The band expresses frustration at a romantic relationship long past the point of rescue while continuing to struggle with mental health and self-loathing.

Hailing from Tinley Park, IL, Real Friends formed in 2010 during what fans dubbed the “Sad Boi Pop Punk” era and quickly became mainstays on the scene following their groundbreaking releases Everyone who drew you here (2012) and debut LP Put yourself back together (2013).

Since then, the band has released three more albums, all of which have a heavy focus on mental health, self-esteem issues, and relationships gone wrong. There’s nothing worse than being late follows the band’s 2021 EP, Torn in twomarking their second release with new frontman Cody Muraro, who hails from Vancouver.

Leading single and first track tell me you’re sorry is heavy and serious, reminiscent of legendary Real Friends tracks such as Late nights in my car. With loud, distorted guitars and driving drums, the song makes you expect that sound from the rest of the EP, which is not the case.

But in terms of messaging? It sets the tone perfectly. Muraro cries, “I leave you to fail me again / It’s bittersweet to know I can still count on you.” The chorus on tell me you’re sorry is angry, full of desperation and incredibly catchy.

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The damage is done, about breaking up with a toxic relationship, actually sets the tone for the EP. With the whiny guitars and simple lyrics, this song sounds like it could be on a mid-2000’s radio rock album, with its poppy affects carrying over into the rest of the tracks.

Every pop punk release these days contains at least one stripped down song. I don’t have to do this anymore is the offer of the band There’s nothing worse than being late. The bright acoustic guitar evokes a sense of melancholy and regret, setting the stage for Muraro to reflect on his newfound self-esteem after leaving a toxic relationship. The twangy riffs in the background add to the bittersweet feel.

Without two acoustic renditions of tell me you’re sorry And Always loseis the last track on this album I am not ready. This song’s anthemic intro leads listeners into a powerful pep talk as Muraro tries to convince himself to break out of the rut he’s been in since getting out of a bad relationship. The punchy guitars and snare-heavy drums create a sense of urgency and guide Muraro (and us) through the fear of necessary change.

Following the departure of original singer Dan Lambton, fans were unsure if Muraro would be able to deliver songs with the same emotional intensity. But it’s clear that Real Friends are still just as good at writing songs about all the shit that comes with being a flawed human being. There’s nothing worse than being latealthough sonically more pop, it’s still just as emotional a hit as their previous work.

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