Driver Friendly – “Unimagined Bridges” Album Review
Posted: by Colin
There’s never been a question about Driver Friendly’s ability to write catchy, fun, interesting, witty, pop rock songs. Throughout the last few years, the band has consistently remained a hidden pop rock gem quietly releasing an excellent full length “Bury a Dream” as well as “Peaks and Valleys”, their 2013 debut EP on Hopeless Records. With this taken into consideration, 2014 is the year Driver Friendly, knowingly or not, has been building up to their entire career. Essentially perfecting their craft, Unimagined Bridges is Driver Friendly’s best work to date.
Unimagined Bridges has a legitimate chance to be the “happiest sad album” you’ll listen to this year. Vocalist Tyler Welsh focuses on issues that range from basic relationship troubles, to complex life long hardships, such as discovering who you are. However, in an incredible juxtaposition, Driver Friendly has the uncanny (and defining) ability to accentuate these powerful themes in their songs with poppy, bubbly, uplifting tones filled with gigantic, addicting choruses (that are only further highlighted by the use of horns) without sounding condescending or juvenile.
The beauty of Unimagined Bridges is that examples of this impeccable integration aren’t just found in one song, but are discovered throughout the entire eleven track sequence. Early on “Everything Gold” showcases the precision, and most likely tedious scrutiny Unimagined Bridges went through. “Everything Gold” starts off with a blatantly funky melody, but quickly transitions into the first grand, ambitious chorus of the album, which is highlighted with Welsh cautiously singing “An out stretched hand is an open promise, it takes more than words to stay honest. Fall in and out of belief, fade into me.”
Heading in the opposite direction, one of the only slow, powerful, and churning songs on the album is “The Conversation”. Attributed to the booming drums, washed out guitars, cunning lyricism, and purposeful production to lead the listener to believe the song was more likely to be recorded in am empty warehouse than studio, “The Conversation” feels like a retrospective, closing track, only six songs in. Ironically, the song is followed up with “Bad Way” with Welsh delicately pleading multiple times “Let me in, let me in, let me in” to symbolize that Driver Friendly’s best work in Unimagined Bridges is yet to come.
In a fulfilling resolution, the album’s last colossal hook is found in “Twenty Centuries of Sleep”. If “Everything Gold” had an older brother, this would be the track. “Twenty Centuries of Sleep” is an authoritative anthem that doesn’t ask, but demands that the listener remembers Unimagined Bridges when considering their “Album of the Year” lists in December. Long, whiny guitars, and drowsy horns peak throughout the song. Together, this takes perfect shape for the album’s most chaotic and intense lines “Our best laid plans are never in our hands. Caught up, cast away, like curses in the wind. Search a waste of desert sand, caught up, cast away, like curses in the wind.” “Twenty Centuries of Sleep” is an emotional, cathartic proclamation that does well to summarize Unimagined Bridges and define any possible confusion about what themes and messages the band are transmitting.
Overall, Driver Friendly have put together one of the most impressive, complex pop rock albums in recent memory. Every massive, loud chorus, and clever line is a reminder that Driver Friendly is making their mark, and is here to stay. Yes, Driver Friendly has burnt some bridges, but this album serves as an acknowledgement of that and the ability to move on, mend, and construct new ones.
– Colin Mac