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Sean Lennon - Friendly Fire

Released on Capitol Records, 10/3/06

Sean Lennon risks the usual contentions with his second major release after a long eight years. Had Friendly Fire been released by anyone other than the offspring of a prolific Buddha-headed music guru, John Lennon, there would be a lot less backfire, fuss and cruel comparisons.

Friendly Fire evokes the early works of what his late father was apart of, famed for, yet Sean Lennon launches his own melodic symmetry, lures the gap with melancholic orchestral symphonies.

There were all the EPs that he collaborated on/with since those years after his debut release Into The Sun. This new album shows much of his onslaught courage whilst his experimental pop powering toward copious maturity. Inside Friendly Fire is a merry-go-round of cradlesongs that gently parachutes you about a calm into his quirky universe.

The opening track, “Dead Meat” leads a haunting menagerie of lullaby-like canticles that unwittingly courts you to abide by his simple and fretting lyrics lingered with dubious absolution. In “Wait For Me” he beseeches you with, “Please don’t ask me why, true as a sky, everyone is born to die, so take your time, but don’t take mine, lose yourself but don’t lose your mind.” Genius is born out of simplicity.

Though everyone may yet deem him such a title (not everyone agreed John Lennon was in his day). He is less celebrated than his luminous father, his musically ineffectual mother (lest the more questionably palatable remixed version of “Walking On Thin Ice” with Pet Shop Boys) and more than his circumscribed-pop witted half brother, Julian Lennon, but his artistry is undeniably legitimate. He cannot cheat himself of whom he is nor deny his pedigree and this is what he and the world know to be true. No amount of eurhythmic acrobatics can hide his roots nor can it win your influence without authenticity, and here is a spectacle of the artisan al harlequin himself.

Friendly Fire is a two-disc set while the first is the audio only musical presentation and the second disc stage a bohemian vanguard video effort he wrote, co-produced and of course stars. Call it a gratuitous music video but it is a welcome relief of sorts that allows you to peer into his artistic mind. Its sublime beauty and lofty splendor are a compounding attraction than that which you may see on today’s MTV. Lucid scenarios and playful costumes run expositions set to his music that are found in disc one.

True his style is avant-garde, artsy pop, if you will and the formula may be old but is downright untired. The sound of Mini-Moogs and Hammonds plays like the pied piper, skipping you into a pretty twilight hour. His breathy vocal is lacking and has been compared to the likes of Elliot Smith but the little twists and turns his music takes do well to make up for it. He dubs over his own with harmonies reminiscent of the Mamas & the Papas, Simon & Garfunkel and psychedelic pop in a “Strawberry Fields” kind of way. Friendly Fire, this pip of an album is a welcomed treat for its uncensored experimental flow and wide-eyed Moira.

Friendly Fire has been hugged, squished, squeezed, criticized, scrutinized, pawed, clawed from all fronts, treated like an unwanted poster child. All the angry comparisons made maybe brought on by reminders of what hurts. For all his efforts, his voice bethinks what the world had known for a snippet of time. His voice and that of his half-brothers’ effortlessly echoes and stalls our mind in that, a much gifted musician, a sovereign artist has touched us so.

What a profound effect this artist has had on the world and that a generation of us has experienced and witnessed it taken away. Perhaps this is the reason for the elusive subterfuge that Sean Lennon has faced such unfair dissolutions. If you are open and put aside the baggage, Friendly Fire will take you about on its merry-go-round and unequivocally leave you with a wondrous impression.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars