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Jen’s Top Tens: My Favorite Songs by Real Friends

Real Friends
Real Friends photo: Adam Elmakias


There are times in life when you come across a band that really impacts your life in a way that you never could have imagined. A time when lyrics leave you weak in the knees and numb to the bone. A time when the fast paced melodies of that bands’ song leaves you with adrenaline rushing through your veins. Real Friends are one of those bands that I stumbled upon one day and fell in love with. While I enjoy pretty much everything they’ve put out, I’ve narrowed it down to a list of ten songs that I think you should check out from this Chicago pop-punk band.

1.) Summer

This one is for the people trying to find strength within themselves to make it through day-to-day life without somebody else (in this context, a past lover that seems to have really screwed them over).

With the lyrics “I miss you like the summer / Right now I think I need you here / But I don’t really need you / I’ll get through the winter without you”, we can see that the deeper meaning is that the winter is equivalent to dark, depressing times, and that they can make it back to happiness (the summer) without this past lover. It’s mixed with the perfect amount of desperation and aggression (“I’m a little worn out / Since you fucking tore me down) to make for an enjoyable listen.

2.) Loose Ends

With awesome guitar riffs and scratchy vocals singing about borderline self-deprecating lyrics, this song is sure to catch your attention. The instruments lie on the heavier side of the pop-punk spectrum, making this an instant Warped Tour hit. In fact, that’s where I first heard this song — on the Warped Tour 2014 compilation album. This song is what really drew me in to Real Friends and made me check out their other stuff.

3.) Late Nights In My Car

One of the things I’ve always loved about Real Friends is how relatable the lyrics felt. While many criticize Real Friends’ plain lyrics, they get straight to the point and are easy to understand. This song negatively reminisces on the past, mentioning that they were “naive and weak” back then.

The most uplifting part of the song comes towards the end, with the lyrics “If you never break / You’ll never know how to put yourself back together” which implies that there’s a reason that we break down sometimes — so that we can build ourselves up to be stronger.

4.) I’ve Given Up On You

This song showcases the softer side of Real Friends. While it features a more laid back electric guitar, the riffs are flawless next to lead singer Dan Lambton’s voice that crescendos from soft to loud. The song is aggressive in the most toned down way possible (if that makes any sense).

There aren’t any backing drums or bass, just the single guitar with Dan’s voice, which is raised. The guitar is still fast paced, but ends up being anticlimactic. Taking the lyrics into consideration, I interpret this as the lead singer showing anger but also being too worn down to be angry.

5.) Empty Picture Frames

While this wasn’t chosen to be a single off of their latest release The Home Inside My Headit definitely sounds like it would’ve been a hit. Right off the bat, I could hear the growth and maturation just from the opening guitar riff. Dan’s vocals seem to be cleaner, a refreshing change of pace. The lyrics have also matured, become more complicated to interpret, but not impossible.

6.) Sixteen

If you were a loner throughout high school (or life, really), I feel ya. And so does Real Friends. Honestly, this song is incredibly depressing. The lyrics discuss how they’ve been distant since they were sixteen, and how they felt like they’ve been walking through life alone. This song is perfect for a rainy day.

7.) Short Song

The title doesn’t lie — this track plays just below two minutes. In this short song, an important message is delivered. It starts off as a song that seems to be dwelling on the past, but soon turns into a more hopeful message that this is just how life has to be, and that things happen for a reason. It’s oddly uplifting, leaving the listener with a sense of hope.

8.) Mess

This is another song off of their latest release that showcases their development as a band. All of the instruments and vocals are cleaner, yet the edginess is still there. The lyrics are nostalgic (“I’m still a lost boy”) which pokes at their previous releases (many of which include lyrics claiming to be a “lost boy” — see below). This song is about letting go of the past, with the past being a recurring theme throughout all of their albums and EP’s thus far.

9.) Lost Boy

The title says it all — clearly this boy is lost (mentally). The lyrics deal with a lot of depression and what it’s like to not only lose a person (in this case, a love interest) but also apart of yourself. The tone is bitter, but at the end they become accepting with the lines “But that’s the way I always want to be / Forever a lost boy with bony knees”.

10.) …And We’re Just Changing

I hate to end this list with a slightly depressing song, but… I’m doing it anyway. This is the perfect closing track on their first album Maybe This Place Is The Same, And We’re Just ChangingLike the title implies, it’s about change and figuring out where to go from here. The electric guitar is slow, but it builds up with the drums to become a song that represents who Real Friends are as a band — just a group of lost boys.

Check out Real Friends’ Spotify down below!