Review: Friend Slash Lover - The Grey Area

A sonically pretty but creatively mediocre recording.
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friend slash loverConnecticut native Josh Mintz’s band, Friend Slash Lover, is more than a channel to bring the singer, songwriter and artist’s vision to the fore. It is a fully functioning indie rock band, with flourishes of electro-pop and Los Angeles sun soaked into its veins.

Featuring Mintz, bassist Frank Day, drummer Jake Hayden, and guitarist Greg Pajer, Friend Slash Lover has been making waves in California by playing at clubs like The Viper Room and Skinny’s Lounge. The live sound was first put to record on the 2010 EP As American as Ones and Zeroes and now makes its way back with their latest extended play called The Grey Area.

“My inspirations probably come more from the fine art world, movies and the news than from other musicians. I love when I discover someone who has a completely original take on something, like Ryan Trecartin when he makes a video piece or Banksy when he modifies a phone booth,” says Mintz.

The uniqueness of Friend Slash Lover’s take is up in the air with The Grey Area, however. As sonically pretty as the EP is, it doesn’t vary much from the current crop of electro-pop acts. And influences from the likes of Depeche Mode and Bowie are strong – not that there’s anything wrong with that.

The EP’s six songs may not be enough to provide the most comprehensive of visions for what Mintz has in mind, but it’s a decent start.

His whispery, slithery tones match the pulsating neon of Friend Slash Lover’s electro method and the band’s consistency keeps the music snug. Songs like “As Seen on TV” make for razor-sharp rock-based bits, while the title track is a predictably-paced ballad that allows for a certain degree of genteel restraint.

Perhaps the most inventive musical moment of The Grey Area comes with the agreeably irregular cover of XTC’s “Dear God.” Mintz’s slight hum curves into a whisper, bending with the electronic framework and dancing with Hayden and Day’s fitting rhythm.

Friend Slash Lover’s second EP isn’t quite the artistic venture it purports to be, but it is a sufficient slice of electronically-tinged indie rock/pop. Given a larger canvas and fewer encumbrances (perhaps), Mintz’s band could really create something exceptional and vivid.