[sic] Magazine

Me and My Friends – Look Up

Despite being UK-based, Me and My Friends have a very definite African feel to their music. Not as in the fake plastic “Upper West Side Soweto” sound of, say, Vampire Weekend, but a more stripped-back clean-sounding affair that combines excellent finger-picking guitar with cello, clarinet, bass, drums and vocal harmonies. The five-piece are clearly a very tight-knit unit with a pulsating groove running the length and breadth of pretty much every track. With bassist James Grunwell on production duties, the band have opted for a clean-sounding album that dispenses with effects and synths and aims to let the songs do all of the talking.

Musically, their sound is located geographically somewhere between West Africa, Jamaica and Notting Hill and Look Up is their third album. Opener ‘Another Lifetime’ demonstrates the band’s summery sound beautifully. The shuffle of the drums and African bass combined with the youthful vocal melodies of songwriter, Nick Rasle, makes for an arresting listen. Instantly likeable and energetic, the vibe is one of a hazy afternoon lying on a beach in Cape Verde.

‘High As The Sun’ continues the summery theme and also pulls off a rather sexy clarinet solo. The verse is sheer poetry – “If I could catch this heady moment of bliss / If I could pour it in a bottle, my dear / If I could freeze a spark to touch its sweet light, with no regret to pull down our eyes.”

Following upbeat instrumental ‘Look Up’, things settle back down somewhat for the looser folk rhythms of ‘Promise Me This Much’, which adds a smattering of minor chords into the mix. The cello also makes for an interesting middle section. A definite thumbs-up for the ‘rollercoaster’ bass throughout the track, where no two notes appear to be repeated.

‘You Read My Mind’ returns to the African vibe with some very adept finger-picking throughout. Aside from the song title repeated throughout the chorus, it’s a mainly instrumental track – and a fun one at that. Elsewhere, ‘Good Life’ summons the spirit of Bob Marley. ‘All Of This I Know’ is an unexpected highlight towards the end of the album. Aside from Radiohead, you hardly ever hear a song performed in a 7/8 time signature and they do it so well that it actually took me several listens to realise that I wasn’t listening to 4/4.

‘Look Up’ brings together a fairly diverse collection of songs that are performed with a light and airy feel. There’s a considerable amount of space in the music, which may divide opinion; some people are going to love the summery, laid-back vibes, while others may feel that there’s room for slightly more content. Listen to its charms several times, however, and ‘Look Up’ will pull you into its web.

‘Look Up’ is released on December 6th. Me and My Friends are also playing a couple of future dates in support of the album – in London on Dec 6th and Newcastle on Dec 8th.

Find Out More