Pop punk powerhouses, Real Friends, are masters of regret on latest release

New Canadian lead singer maintains original’s intensty


Real Friends:

There’s Nothing Worse Than Too Late

Genre: Punk Pop

Rating: NNN (out of 5)
Sound: Pop-forward punk as Real Friends reflect on regret and attempting to move on after a relationship.
If you like: Knuckle Puck, Youth Fountain, State Champs
Best track: Tell Me You’re Sorry
Why you should listen: Pop-punkers Real Friends are masters at writing about regret and mental health, and the songs on There’s Nothing Worse Than Too Late are no different. They pair catchy choruses with lyrics about a relationship gone downhill.

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On There’s Nothing Worse Than Too Late, pop-punk heavyweights Real Friends trade in more of their punky roots for cleaner, brighter guitars, invoking a poppier sound while retaining the reflective, emotional lyrics that they’ve become known for.

The band voice their frustrations with a romantic relationship that is long past the point of saving, while they continue to struggle with mental health and self-hatred.

Harkening from Tinley Park, IL, Real Friends formed in 2010 during what fans call the “Sad Boi Pop Punk” era, quickly becoming mainstays in the scene after the seminal releases Everyone That Dragged You Here (2012) and debut LP Put Yourself Back Together (2013).

Since then, the band has released three more albums, all focusing heavily on mental health, self-esteem issues and relationships gone wrong. There’s Nothing Worse Than Too Late follows the band’s 2021 EP, Torn in Two, marking their second release with new frontperson Cody Muraro, who hails from Vancouver.

Lead single and first track Tell Me You’re Sorry is heavy and earnest, calling back to iconic Real Friends tracks, such as Late Nights in My Car. With loud, distorted guitars and driving drums, the song misleads you to expect this sound from the rest of the EP, which isn’t the case.

But in terms of messaging? It sets the tone perfectly. Muraro cries, “I’ll leave it up to you to let me down again / It’s bittersweet to know I can still count on you for something.” The chorus on Tell Me You’re Sorry is angry, full of desperation and incredibly catchy.

The Damage Is Done, about giving up on a toxic relationship, actually sets the sound for the EP. With the whiny guitars and simple lyrics, this song sounds like it could be on a mid-2000s radio-rock album, with its poppy affectations spilling over into the rest of the tracks.

Every pop-punk release these days includes at least one stripped-back song. I Don’t Have to Do That Anymore is the band’s offering on There’s Nothing Worse Than Too Late. The bright acoustic guitar invokes a feeling of melancholy and regret, setting the stage for Muraro to reflect on his newfound sense of self after leaving a toxic relationship. The twangy riffs in the background add to the bittersweet feeling.

Excluding two acoustic renditions of Tell Me You’re Sorry and Always Lose, the last track on this album is I’m Not Ready. This song’s anthemic intro leads listeners to a powerful pep talk where Muraro tries to convince himself to get out of the rut he’s been in since leaving a bad relationship. The punchy guitars and snare-heavy drums create a sense of urgency, leading Muraro (and us) through the anxieties of necessary change.

After the departure of original vocalist Dan Lambton, fans weren’t sure if Muraro would be able to deliver songs with the same level of emotional intensity. But it’s clear Real Friends are still just as good at writing songs about all the shit that comes with being a flawed person. There’s Nothing Worse Than Too Late, while poppier sonically, is still just as much of an emotional gut punch as their previous work.

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