The concept album can be a tricky thing, supposedly being a entire body of work devoted to a theme or a narrative. Something which Funeral for a Friend have attempted on their third full-length.
The album is [according to singer Matt Davies] about a fisherman called David who gets shipwrecked in the middle of a terrible storm. He is the only survivor, and as he drifts and believes himself to be dying, he looks back over his life. Eventually, as the album comes to a close, he hits land, builds himself a raft, and eventually gets home to his family. Sounds all well and good, but the lyrics which tell this story never really seem to have a resonance or a subtext, leaving you with the impression that it is, just a story which doesn't offer anything really in the way of creative commentary.
This is a sense which is carried throughout the album, the band uses many additional palettes, such as additional backing singers, operatic vocalists, string orchestras which rather than magnifying the album as they should, come across more as a way of trying to disguise the creative inaptitude inherent within Tales. Admittedly there are a few high points. Opening track "Oblivion" and "All Hands on Deck: Open Water" are both storming tracks (yes, the amount of sea related references throughout this review will be high, high like the crest of a tidal wave) with "Oblivion" showcasing their trademark slowdown bridges with building drums. Then, later in the album, "Walk Away" is a song which carries a genuine emotional weight to it. But it's too little too.... well, just too little really.
This album will likely see the alienation of most of their early fanbase as Funeral for a Friend once and for all throw off their post-hardcore roots. The cynical might correlate the expunging of their heavier elements with their signing to a major label, both uncannily occuring at the same time. The cynical being us then. To finish, let us end on a quote, taken appropriately enough from the song that started the band off which aptly describes the position FFAF are now in: "Old man your guns are rusted you've forgotten how to fight! Lay down!. I'll tear the ghost from you"