Friendly Fires – Jump In The Pool

1 11 2009

I’ve been searching through my iPod today trying to find a good example of a song that can perfectly describe my project. I was looking for something with that “brick wall” sound described in my previous post, and I think I may have found it. The song is called Jump In The Pool by Friendly Fires, released in 2008:

The song is very upbeat, so it’s understandable that there should be loud parts to the song. But after a few listens I tried asking myself if there were any instruments in the mix which were quieter than others.The conclusion I came to was that there wasn’t a great deal of difference between any instrument, it was only the timbre and pitch of the instrument which would make it sound marginally quieter or louder than the others.

However, if you listen carefully you will notice that there are no real quiet moments in the song whatsoever. Even the backing vocals (the “aaaahs”) are set at quite a  high volume. During the chorus, you can hear slight dips in the sound of the instrumetns when the vocals hit certain notes. This is the vocal compressor squashing the other instruments so that the vocals can be heard over the rest of the drums.

I uploaded the song into Cubase and took a screenshot of the waveform, seen here:

FF Screenshot

"Jump In The Pool" Waveform

As you can see, the waveform is at it’s peak for long durations of the song, where the white covers the blue background completely.You can see that there is little difference in volume between the verses and choruses.

As a sound engineer, I could sit and criticize a great number of things I dislike or don’t agree with about the mixing and mastering of this song. However, Friendly Fires are a very popular band, nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in 2009 and reaching #21 in the UK album chart.
With this in mind, the evidence shows that the general public are not put off by the “brick wall” sound in this production. Is it something that people enjoy listening to in a record, or is it more about the actual content of the song rather than the sound quality of the song?

Advertisements