Sean Lennon – Friendly Fire

Sean Lennon
Friendly Fire

Sean Lennon, the second son of Beatles’ genius John Lennon, is recognized more for his name than anything else. Born on October 9th, 1975 (his father’s 35th birthday), he has struggled to make a name for himself as a solo artist over the last decade. Fortunately, his sophomore effort, Friendly Fire, shows that Sean has a lot of talent and should be a success on his own merits.

Lennon has had a relatively brief past in music. He released his first solo album, Into the Sun, in 1998 and then was a member of his now ex-girlfriend Yuka Honda ’s band Cibo Motto. For several years he kept a low profile in the New York socialite scene. Tragic events lead to him recording this album. His former girlfriend, actress Bijou Phillips, cheated on him with his best friend, who died in a motorcycle accident before the two could resolve the conflict. His friend and girlfriend betrayed him (hence the title of the album) and, in the only way he knew how, the figuratively cuckolded Sean expressed his pain in song. The result is a short but very sweet and personal album written by Sean and performed in conjunction with his band (which includes Yuka Honda).

The album opens with perhaps its best song, “Dead Meat”. It has a short piano intro (that gets a reprise) and then launches into some very catchy melodies, sung with great harmony (Lennon has a surprisingly beautiful falsetto voice). This song is a direct threat to his late friend, with the chorus being “You’re gonna get what you deserve.” “Parachute” talks about his opinion on love in general and may be a message to Bijou. The title track is a sad representation of the betrayal (how it completely shocked him and he’ll never fully get over it). The lyrics are very heartbreaking and the music provides great accompaniment. The rest of the album is also great (“Headlights” is a clear choice for a single).

Friendly Fire really has no obvious faults. It’s simply ten short but great pop songs about a very sad event in Sean’s life. Some may not like that it is under forty minutes, but that only makes the album better overall. There is no filler. Once the album is over, it calls to be heard again immediately. Lennon has a surprisingly great, poetic voice to sing his heartache, and he does it with ease. The musicianship is flawless and suits the topics well. Overall Friendly Fire can be compared to the albums of Death Cab for Cutie and Blackfield. It has great songwriting, amazingly catchy and memorable melodies, and surprising complexity (seeing it live, yet flawlessly performed, proves that).

Although skeptics may conclude he is merely trying to capitalize on his father’s legacy or imitate him, quite the opposite is true. There is no logical reason that Sean Lennon should not be a very popular and respected artist. He has the skills to write great songs, and the voice to sing them. His back up band is just as strong, and the combination is too good to be ignored. Lennon deserves to have his own career and not be compared to his father. Friendly Fire is a fantastic pop album that will stand the test of time.