The growth of the post-hardcore/emo genre has made a few things inevitable: bands struggling to find their own unique voices; bands becoming frustrated with the genre's limitations; bands trying to break the mold in a scene filled with seemingly interchangeable acts.
But the genre becoming a hub for concept albums? Really?
"When we initially went to our A&R guy and played him the core of [our new album], I remember he looked at us and said, "Oh no, not another fucking concept record,'" says Gareth Davies, bassist for Funeral for a Friend.
Well, to be fair, the label rep was only half-right. While it's true that Funeral's latest, Tales Don't Tell Themselves, is a concept album, listeners can still expect the crunching guitars and big lyrical hooks that have comprised the band's trademark. The only real difference, Davies says, is that there's now a bit of a storyline behind the songs.
And, Davies continues, Tales' tracks will hold up as standalone singles.
The story of the journey home of a lone shipwreck survivor, Tales Don't Tell Themselves is hardly an album of sloppy sea shanties. Instead, it shows a sharpening and honing of the band's songwriting.
And while Tales finds the South Wales, U.K.-based Funeral for a Friend firmly planting its roots into the post-hardcore sound, it also finds the band drawing inspiration from a very un-hardcore place: '70s arena and progressive rock.
"We'd been listening to Queen, Boston and Rush," Davies says. "It opened avenues for us that we'd never [been down] before. As much as people hate [these acts], everyone knows their songs."
While Tales Don't Tell Themselves may not place Funeral for a Friend amongst the pantheon of arena-rock gods any time soon, it does embrace the ambition and bombast of a bygone era, and firmly places these values within a modern setting something that Davies doesn't see a lot of bands trying.
"No bands these days seem prepared to become a classic act," he says. "Everything comes and goes so quickly, but why is that? Bands aren't taking risks. But we want to."
While Davies might not know why his peers aren't growing and changing, he does have a pretty good idea of where his band is headed.
"We are going to just keep writing what we are really big fans of, and how we interoperate what we are listening to," he says. "And hopefully that translates into good albums."
It's a strategy that works on Tales Don't Tell Themselves. It's hardly a perfect disc, but its misfires are just as fascinating as its high points. And, perhaps more importantly, it's allowed Funeral for a Friend to move away from the sound of 2003's Casually Dressed & Deep in Conversation and 2005's Hours.
"When we started writing Tales," Davies says, "we had originally written nine songs for the album, and they weren't up to the potential of what they could have been. So we took a break and started writing the core songs of the album. And we knew that we'd found the right sound." email@example.com
Funeral for a Friend with Fightstar, Emanuel and Bless the Call
The Black Sheep, 2106 E. Platte Ave.
Sunday, June 17, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $10-$12, all ages; call 866/468-7621 or visit sodajerkpresents.com.