Friko Follow Big Indie-Rock Footprints on Debut Album

Friko – Where we’ve been, Where we go from here

Chicago’s vaunted teen/DIY scene has already launched a bunch of interesting bands, including ‘90s-inspired post-punk trio Horsegirl, lean ‘n’ mean noise-rockers Lifeguard, and lo-fi psych-poppers Dwaal Troupe. Now along comes Friko, a Windy City duo whose music is dynamic and ambitious in a way that separates them from their more austere peers. It also places them in a lineage of great indie- and alt-rock acts like Radiohead, Arcade Fire, and Bright Eyes—bands with prominent weird streaks, arena-sized potential, and the chops to build a bridge between the two.

Those are big footprints to follow, and Friko’s debut LP, Where we’ve been, Where we go from here, is a giant step in that path of greatness. Across nine tracks, singer/guitarist Niko Kapetan and drummer Bailey Minzenberger bounce effortlessly from fragile ballads to punk rippers to chamber-pop crescendos, somehow both fully in control and barely holding it together. Highlights include the punchy, tumbledown chorus of “Crimson to Chrome,” the serrated guitar riffs and unhinged clatter of “Chemical,” the woozy sing-along feel of “Statues,” and the delicate piano and violin melodies of “For Ella”—a generous nod to Kapetan and Minzenberger’s shared love of classical music.

Then there’s the album’s anthemic penultimate track, “Get Numb To It!”, in which Kapetan spits out bleak lyrics about burnout, empty promises, and fake smiles, even as the music bounces into cheerful oblivion. “It doesn’t get better / It just gets twice as bad because you let it / So you better get numb to it,” he howls, as he and Minzenberger build, layer by layer, to an epic guitar solo and a frenetic outro. Only time will tell if Friko wind up playing those aforementioned arenas, but Where we’ve been shows they have the ability and ambition to aim as high as they’d like. – GRADE: A

You can check out Where we’ve been, Where we go from here at Bandcamp and elsewhere.  

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