If you loved the "Are You Scared To Get Happy?" fanzine and all the bands it championed so infectiously – Hurrah!, Teardrops, Laugh, Chesterfields, Razorcuts, Bodines, then you'll murder to own a copy of this, the second LP by Cleveland's Friends. "Roads Leading Everywhere" is lightweight, tuneful pop romance for fans of gently strummed acoustic guitars, traditionally melodic songs about nostalgia, heartache, hope and sunshine in the winter. Taking their inspirational cue from Orange Juice, Aztec Camera and lesser-known beauties Fantastic Something, Friends whisk us back to the days of pre-House of Valentine Creation or the early Eighties when groups like Pale Fountains were considered mildly revolutionary for incorporating Burt Bacharach and Deniece Williams "Free" into their soft-pop noise.
If this seems like your idea of rapture, you'll bleed this record white. If, on the other hand, you hate groups that sound as though they're about to break into a chorus of "ba-ba-ba" every five seconds, then I'll advise you to keep a very wide berth of "Roads Leading Everywhere".
Melody Maker, 21 October 1989
Cleveland pop band Friends release their second LP on Monday. Roads Leading Everywhere announces itself brightly with the excellent You'll Never See That Summertime Again, a brassy and nostalgic echo of perky debut LP Let's Get Away From It All.
Ten songs later, Give Me More brings a spirited end to an enjoyable album, but one that duplicates the sunny pop of the first album rather too often.
Nostalgia, romance and childhood are again to the fore as lyricist William Jones dons his rose-tinted glasses of reminisce, although Here Comes the Breakdown is a welcome break from too much reflective bliss.
Perhaps as singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer and record label boss, William has had too much input for an individual. But overally, he again displays the ability to frame a catchy hookline in a classy English pop tune and Roads Leading Everywhere should build on the debut LP's 1,000 sales.
Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 15 September 1989
There's always a feeling, though, that independent means it came from the bedroom (so to speak). In those terms, then, it's labels like Summerhouse, through APT, who should be watched for their sheer enthusiasm, liberally sprinkled with a dose of creativity. Their latest release is an album from the pop-friendly tunesmiths Friends. Beyond the world of the jangle. Friends' Roads Leading Everywhere is a warm, alluring set that should have come out earlier in the summer to get the right atmosphere … still better late.
Music Week, 23 September 1989
The jangling guitars of Friends have returned with a second LP. Recorded in Darlington with impressive determination the new album opens with You'll Never See That Summertime Again, which is a seriously potential hit single. This is indie pop at its best; shy, commercial and painstakingly simple. With a series of live dates to support this release, Roads Leading Everywhere should be a dead cert indie chart contender.
Music Week, 28 October 1989
Having been bruised and battered almost into submission by the Red Rhino fiasco, it's a credit to Summerhouse master and flag-bearer William Jones that Friends' difficult second album has even materialised. True, it is Jones' own outfit that gets the push here but, having mortgaged his house to selflessly give several promising North-East bands a kick-start (Whirlpool Guest House, Quinn The Eskimo), I think we can excuse this.
Friends have always been the most accessible of the Summerhousers, perhaps lacking the jangling edge and poetic cleverness of the Eskimos. It's unpretentiously blatant Anglo pop. Jones's own pipes remind of a cobbling together of Ray Davies, Julian Cope and, yes, Peter Noone, and what with their Haircut horns and uplifting percussion, the tracks on 'Roads To Everywhere' tend towards the yesterday-was-bliss-but-tomorrow's-gonna-be-even-brighter school of songwriting.
Often can't see it myself, to be honest, but now and then it's a welcome tonic for the tympanum. Positive progress from their 'Let's Get Away From It All' debut. Oh, and 'I Like' is a glorious wodge of optimism that really ought to be a hippie anthem for the '90s.
New Musical Express, 21 October 1989
Friends, it must be said, are quite extraordinarily wet. Writer and producer William Jones regularly sings such lines as "I like my mother and father". Just as some writers constantly use the word "rain" to show how soulful they are, Jones inserts "summer" into most songs to show how innocent and optimistic he is. This Cleveland group's second album is quintessentially indie to an almost parodic extent, with sub-Marr riffing and vocals exactly midway between Cope and Morrissey, the only novel ingredient being a golden-toned trumpet. But these radically unfunky songs are bursting with melody, with just about compensates for the gross whimsicality of the whole venture.
Q, February 1990
Its all summery tunes with a spring in their step, the word breezy could have been designed for Friends. The blend of melody based guitar songs, strong vocal and bass hooks combined with an overall "jauntiness" is as refreshing as it is risky. Risky because of the fine line Friends tread between the unique sound they create, a free, airy sound and the bland pop of other artists who write in the same vein, Aztec Camera, Prefab Sprout, popists one and all. For the moment Friends are on safe ground.
An optimistically jolly sound ruthlessly exploiting Cope style vocals from William Jones and powerful arrangements, Friends veer from nauseating optimism for life, 'All Around You Now' to reflective realism. Mood music in its finest form, pensive and thoughtful with the light fingered touch. 'Here Comes The Breakdown' leaps out with "splendid" printed all over it. A beaty, happy song. An entire blue sky and scorching afternoon in one 3 minute ditty, add some acidic lyrics and the sundrenched meadow is obviously filled with vipers lying in wait. Lurking.
'There's Another Day' is a drum based euphoric song. Leaping between minor and major keys. Based on a simple running scale with piano and tight guitar work, it defines Friends' musical strengths.
Lurking. Danger. Sameness. Friends will be accused of sameness. Justifiably. The formula for their music is very set. It is successful for it spawned a great debut LP form them last year but the danger is that it becomes too set. There are a million directions they can take, a million ways they can comfortably develop, they need not be too wary for when the base is this strong then they are safe.
Scratch, August/September 1989
Intelligent if derivative English pop of the Housemartins/Smiths variety full of breezy tunes and sensitively bruised vocals. Nicely delivered and some memorable moments and while not exceptional it wouldn't disgrace the collection.
What's On, Birmingham
Och mer pop, fast engelsk, hittar vi i andra LPn med FRIENDS. Nu nerbantat till duo är 'Roads Leading Everywhere' (Summerhouse, P.O. Box 13, Stockton-On-Tees, GB-Cleveland TS18 1RX) rosaskimrande romantik med halvakustiska gitarrer och trumpet. Som gjort för sommarängar långt ifrån avgastyngd stadsparanoia.
Base One, September 1989
J'ai écouté le nouvel album des Friends quelques seconds après avoir débarrassé ma platine des oeuvres de Transvision Vamp. La lumière est entrée dans la pièce. Deux groupes, deux mondes. Transvision Vamp, avec un carriérisme et un cynisme comme on l'ingurgite dans les business-schools, s'occupe d'argent, d'image, de soufre, de marketing et finalement assez peu de musique. Le groupe pose vulgairement sur une pochette sex-shop où traînent, bien en evidence, des clins d'oeil à la mythologie – Dylan et Velvet. Ils rêvent de rejoindre le peloton des great rock'n'roll swindles.
Les Friends, eux, habitent dans un village, très loin de cette agitation, don't ils ignorent tout. Ils font de la musique uniquement parce qu'un jour, ils ont entendu les Teardrop Explodes et qu'ils ont trouvé cette musique merveilleuse. Et comme des gamins s'amusent sans fin avec un vieux bout de bois alors que le marché leur propose moult robots électroniques, les Friends vénèrent depuis le groupe séminal de Julian Cope en ignorant tout du modernisme galopant. Chics types. Convaincus que la musique ne peut se jouer qu'avec des guitars et des harmonies. Certains que la mélodie amoureusement briquée sera pour toujours une valuer étalon. Prêts à jurer que la pop-music possède des valeurs thérapeutiques. Just deux copains et leurs amis, qui jouent sans raison, sans ambition, d'entetantes ritournelles rustiques, trésors de mélancolie pastorale. Très loin de cette campagne paisible, la blonde de Transvision Vamp va à la banque en voiture italienne rouge.
Les Inrockuptibles, October/November 1989