Progression, change and excellence -- three words that can only describe the transformation that Funeral for a Friend have experienced since their explosion onto the music scene thanks to the 2003 effort Casually Dressed and Deep in Conversation. Their latest effort, Tales Don’t Tell Themselves sees a complete change in musical forte for the band, as well as change of direction lyrically, as Tales is a concept album of a shipwrecked fisherman (David) and his struggle to return home.
The album kicks off in dramatic fashion with the lead single “Into Oblivion (Reunion),” starting off with an intro of stringed orchestra before pummelling the listener with the band’s excellent musicianship and enticing them with Matt Davies' melodic sounding vocals. “The Great Wide Open” carries the listener on further into the story of the shipwreck and peril, with the sailor David being lost in “the great wide open.” On any other given day, “The Diary” could have easily been one of the album’s singles, as it has a catchy pop-rock factor about that makes it stand out against the rest of the album. Unfortunately, it’s this element about it that makes most who listen to it skip to the next song, the near ballad-like “On a Wire."
What is arguably the best point of the album would be the two-part epic “All Hands on Deck, Pt.1: Raise the Sail” and “All Hands on Deck, Pt.2: Open Water.” “Part One” is one of the more insistent songs on the album, not stopping for a breakdown or tempo change before it slowly merges towards the end with its better half of “Part Two.” “Open Water” doesn’t have that same impact that the "Raise the Sail" has, but it is still easily one of the better songs on Tales.
“Out of Reach” shows a heavier side of the album by the intensity and aggression of the composure of the song itself. “One for the Road” and “Walk Away” team up together fairly well to compose the atmosphere of the ending track, the wonderful six-and-a-half minute ballad that is “The Sweetest Wave.” While the song may seem completely off track from the rest of the album with its piano inclusion, strings and theme of deliverance, rest assured it is far from it, as it provides a somewhat beautiful and climatic ending to an album that has seem much growth from a band that were once the heavyweights of nü-screamo.
Fans who enjoyed FFAF’s earlier works may be a little hesitant from what they hear at first on Tales, as gone are the days of screaming at the top their lungs and in come the melodies and maturity that fans of Hours have come to enjoy. From start to finish, Tales is one album that has it all: great musical direction, intelligent lyrics and a fantastic concept to round off what has truly been and will continue to be a stellar career for the Welsh quintet.