Electro-R&B group Francis And The Lights, in collaboration with Kanye West and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, have shared a new single, “Friends”, along with its accompanying video. Chance the Rapper previously sampled the track on the Coloring Book standout “Summer Friends” prior to “Friends” official release.
Francis And The Lights’ Francis Farewell Starlite “Friends” handles lead vocals on “Friends”, while Vernon and West contribute backing vocals to the track’s hook. In addition to the input of West and Vernon, a startling number of notable artists receive either production or writing credits. Along with Vernon and Starlite, ex-Vampire Weekend member Rostam Batmanglij, frequent Bon Iver collaborator BJ Burton, and Francis And The Lights member Aaron Lammer received writing credits. All five also received production credits along with Ariel Rechtshaid, Cashmere Cat, and Benny Blanco.
The track itself relies primarily on Starlite’s particular production and vocal sensibilities. Starlite uses a simple beat of alternating bass and clap sounds to highlight his sensual, soaring vocals. Soft, buzzing synths dart around the track’s periphery, providing an emotional uplift at the track’s peak. Although minimal, Vernon and West’s contributions are clearly recognizable. West’s autotune assisted vocals add a mechanized feel to the second rendition of “Friends” hook, while Vernon’s voice closes “Friends” with towering strength.
The single’s video , like its production, exudes beauty through minimalism. The one-shot take video, directed by Jake Schreier, opens with a close up of West standing in a lightly colored soundstage. After West mouths the song’s chorus, “We could be friends”, the camera pans to reveal a contemplative looking Starlite. He proceeds to break into seemingly spontaneous dance, eventually joining with Vernon to perform a synchronized, choreographed dance. Watch the video for “Friends” below.