Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., Sept. 27, 2013
Friendly SavagesO, Joshua!
"We may have lost our way/but do not count us lost," swells John McDonald in the climaxing calamity of "Counted Lost," which opens Friendly Savages' debut LP. It's a call to the ambitiousness of the local quartet, kicking high-energy, folk-rooted tunes through 16 tracks. "I Have Your Ghost" unravels a string band fury into the harrowing surge and tremble of "Trouble With Home," and if McDonald layers the intense sincerity too thick at times – bordering on Mumford & Sons-styled drama – his vocals grind just enough grit to roughen the edges. The balance of controlled chaos in the arrangements keeps the songs moving, so even the calmer paces of "The Hold of the Lord on My Sparrow," harmony swept "Ten Natives," and lightly loping "Gold and Silver (Love Is Lost)" course with a tension to explode. "For Grace (Love Is Found)" re-centers, but "Asteroid J-30" declares the full gravitational pull of stardom's ambitions for the young outfit.