In a sentence:
Richard Russell’s second Everything Is Recorded project ‘Friday Forever’ is less consistent than his first, but has plenty of satisfying highlights and collaborations.
When Richard Russell went to record his Mercury-nominated debut album under the Everything Is Recorded moniker, there was a level of celebration which came with it. Here we have the now-legendary former ‘90s raver who has moved onto XL management and uncovered a plethora of gems as diverse as Adele to The Prodigy showing just what makes him tick. The eponymous record, featuring Sampha and Kamasi Washington amongst many others, was almost highlighting everything great Russell had unearthed throughout his career. Friday Forever is a different record entirely; like the music industry continually evolving, Russell too has evolved and on his sophomore record, it feels like this is less a celebration, and more a showcase for what is to come on XL.
That’s not to say that the record isn’t celebratory in
nature; the record’s narrative takes us on a musical journey spanning a Friday
night in London, to the nauseating dry stench of a regretful hangover on a
Saturday morning. It’s hedonistic and ambitious, and that works both in the album’s
favour and against it. Ultimately, Everything Is Recorded is only as good as
its features. On the first LP, the features were well chosen and executed, with
many cuts being glowing additions in the discography of its artists. That’s not
the case here: Russell’s instrumentation is consistent, but, like all new
artists learning, there is plenty of room to grow in the future.
Opening tracks ‘09:46 PM / EVERY FRIDAY THEREAFTER (intro)’
and ‘10:51 THE NIGHT’
are prime examples of all that is good and bad about Friday Forever. On
the one hand, we have a great feature from London rapper Berwyn (one of many
from the star in the making), who captures the anticipation and the throwaway
indulgence of what is to come. However, all that is great about the
Irish drone-folk of Maria Somerville is lost; gone is her usual dark palette of
instrumentation which had let her hushed vocals star on her initial releases,
instead, it is replaced by a simple dotting electronic beat, which suits Berwyn
so much more.
Elsewhere on the record, we see London MC Flohio kill it
when she takes the centre-stage on ‘02:56 AM / I DONT WANT THIS FEELING TO
STOP’. Sampling classic reggae and adding some glitched electronics, it serves
as one of the best beats on the record, and Flohio doesn’t let the track go to
waste dazzling throughout her short timeslot on the record.
It’s at this point that everything good about the Everything
Is Recorded moniker is realised and when the following ‘03:15 AM / CAVIAR’
thunders into the tracklist it feels we’ve reached the fundamental bliss of the
night out. Where much of the record is a showcase of what is to come on XL,
Ghostface Killah oozes class under a minimalist kick beat cut which is full of
aggression and gratification.
It is from this high that the retrospective nuances of the
night begin, and it is here where Maria Somerville returns to glorious effect
on ‘04:21 AM / THAT SKY’. Under shuffling cool jazz percussion Somerville’s
thick vocals envelop us and take us on our walk home, the warm feeling of
tranquil beauty is a delight. The track is excellently contrasted by James
Messiah, whose free-flowing lyrics work wonders.
For all the raving that Russell has partaken in his time, Friday Forever is a record that leaves more than enough room for meditation and reflection. This is exemplified best on the one-two of ‘05:10 AM / DREAM I NEVER HAD’ and ‘09:35 AM / PRETENDING NOTHINGS WRONG’. On the former, we have calming guitars licks lusciously providing the backdrop for smooth 808s where A.K. Paul’s sumptuous vocals take us to a drunken sleep. On the latter, we have the resurrection as organs introduce us to the morning. Kean Kavanagh’s descriptive vocals have us in the room as he throws up his food from the morning. The track ends on a great skit between Kavanagh and Berwyn, but it is from here where the record begins to falter once more.
‘10:02 AM / BURNT TOAST’ is a flat and forgettable offering.
Musically, it feels Russell has already shown us his hand and it leaves the
Berwyn feature hung out to dry with no way of salvation, much like the “burnt
toast” he speaks of. So from what should be a celebration comes the dying
flickers of swelling orchestration on ‘11:55 AM / THIS WORLD’
and ‘11:59 AM / CIRCLES (outro)’; the former allows Somerville to poignantly
produce an ending which feels undeserved and when the latter’s overbearing
spoken word of legendary poet/songwriter Penny Rimbaud kicks in it feels tepid
rather than soothing.
Friday Forever is an acceptable evolution from
Russell, but little more. Where the eponymous debut celebrated its successes,
the hedonism is often too simplified here. Primed with a series of excellent
feature artists, who will no doubt go on to better things, Friday
Forever, like many nights out, is a record that’s much like the nights out it
describes – taking in a range of highs and lows and, at times, completely
forgettable. (6/10) (John Tindale)
Listen to Friday Forever by Everything Is Recorded here via Spotify, and tell us what you think below!
Tags: album, Everything Is Recorded, Friday Forever
Reading Music Journalism at Huddersfield University, I have a passion for all things musical. I pride myself on being open minded in music genres and have a love of writing to match. The coolest cat on The Student Playlist, I also support Hartlepool United and am an avid pro-wrestling fan.
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