It’s obvious from “La Breeze,” the brilliant Big Beat/Magical Mystery Tour hybrid that opens Simian’s sophomore album, that this music could only have come from Britain. Both this song and “Sunshine” sound like surefire chart toppers, assuming people still want to hear indelibly flatulent analog-synth hooks, chikka-wikka guitars and beautiful backing vocals that recall baroque ’60s pop bands such as the Zombies, the Left Banke and the Pretty Things.
Simian’s approach is simple yet effective: Write real 1967-68-style psych-pop songs, set them to elastic funk rhythms and drape them with generous helpings of electronic tomfoolery and layered vocal harmonies. Simian comes off as a more structured Gorillaz — both write absurdly catchy choruses that also give your pelvis a workout, but Simian does so in concise three-minute chunks. Lead vocalist Simon Lord is the weak link here; he strives for anthemic grandeur but just sounds strained. We Are Your Friends is one of those rare albums on which the backing vocals and incidental electronic frippery hold the most interest.