Sometimes it takes a music festival with an international draw like CMJ to get around to seeing that band from down the block you’ve been meaning to catch. Thus was the case with Bushwick, Brooklyn-based (and nearly unGoogle-able) Friends, who could not have picked a better week to release their potential breakout visuals for their fantastically crafted single “I’m His Girl.” The clip, co-directed (along with Aurora Halal) by lead vocalist Samantha Urbani, is low-key, featuring a retro-filtered stroll under Brooklyn’s elevated trains.
Friends formed through circumstances so befitting a group of new New York 20-somethings that they feel like parody. Urbani had been writing her own music for years, but the tracks hadn’t been heard because she had performance anxiety. Last year she put together demos and shared them with a few people. Urbani continued this routine during a summer away in Berlin, and when she returned home some lifelong friends needed a place to stay after their place was infested by bedbugs. Out of this mess, Friends was formed (though initially under the name Perpetual Crush). They played small shows within six days of their first spontaneous jam session, and soon thereafter released “Friend Crush,” conveniently combining their former and current monikers.
Citing across-the-map influences—80s dance, punk and Motown—while clearly feeling a kinship with several of their Brooklyn contemporaries, Urbani and Friends have quickly garnered critical nods and Lykke Li comparisons. But it’s as much the lyrics and message of “I’m His Girl” that have been deemed noteworthy. Although the title could almost imply ownership, the lyrics do nothing of this sort. The Hairpin referred to the track as “the best song about healthy relationships that has ever been recorded.” Slight hyperbole aside, there’s a valid point there. The song explored empowerment, equality and mutual appreciation without preaching. Verses like See, I don’t need his love/ I really want him right/ And he can feel good that he’s my guy/ Cuz he knows it don’t mean that he’s just mine/ I don’t wanna own him, or control him/ I just want our souls to be aligned pack quite a punch. Even without all the ideas, from the drums to the bells to the won’t-leave-your-head hook, this track bangs. Pop songs as nice can be opportunities for escape from reason. So it’s pretty delightful to hear the one that paints such a grounded but worthwhile picture of love.