Review: Scott Helman’s Anthemic “Old Friends” Explodes with Passion & Reckless Abandon

Scott Helman © 2021
Scott Helman © 2021
An epic outpouring of nostalgia and yearning, Scott Helman’s explosive song “Old Friends” is a wondrous dramatic upheaval roaring with cinematic passion and stirring nuggets of truth.
Stream: “Old Friends” – Scott Helman




Does it ever get better than waking up stoned on a Sunday? Cleaning up good on a Monday? Dragging my feet through the weekday – life was a joke and we all knew the punchline…

A dynamic explosion of nostalgia and yearning, Scott Helman’s latest offering is the best kind of dramatic upheaval. An epic and feverish outpouring, the heavy-hearted “Old Friends” roars with cinematic passion and stirring nuggets of truth – the truth about life; happiness, time; personal growth; change; and so much more.

Old Friends - Scott Helman
Old Friends – Scott Helman
It’s a Friday night and I think about you
Cause I don’t get high in the ways we used to
Why’d they make something that was
so damn bad for me, so easy to do

I would call my mom but she doesn’t like you
Where are you now?
Coming up, coming down?
Memories are bullets,
they get lodged in your head

Released June 11, 2021 via Warner Music Canada, “Old Friends” is an angsty rush of intimate feelings and radiant, soaring sounds. Arriving just at the start of what promises to be an unforgettable, busy summer, the bombastic song is Scott Helman’s first offering since releasing his sophomore album Nonsuch Park (sa) last September.

Featuring the album at the time, Atwood Magazine praised Helman for crafting an effervescent collection of heartfelt, groovy pop: “Nonsuch Park (sa) is built on and made of love – a zest for life, a passion for music, and a deep appreciate for those who’ve come into and those who’ve gone out of our lives. Stunningly cohesive and achingly emotive, [it] finds the seasoned melody-maker and singer dwelling in warm and cool depths alike, transforming past experiences and reflections thereof into compelling singalong moments of joy and togetherness.”

Nonsuch Park (sa) was the first in what Helman previously called a multi-part album series – the ‘sa’ stands for “side A,” and there’s a supposed ‘sb’ “side B” on the way. “Old Friends” has been billed as the first taste off the artist’s forthcoming project (due out later this year), but it’s yet to be confirmed if this will be Nonsuch Park (sb).

Scott Helman © 2021
Scott Helman © 2021

What can be confirmed is just how elevated and impassioned Scott Helman presents in his newest single – riding a stirring, expressive high as he sweeps the depths of his tender soul. Created with producer/writer Ryan Daly [Charlotte Lawrence, Fitz and the Tantrums] and songwriters Michelle Buzz [Bebe Rexha, Katy Perry] and Sean Van Vleet [PVRIS, Oliver Tree], “Old Friends” is a new level of raw oomph that will surely push the Canadian singer/songwriter (and seven-time JUNO Award nominee) even further into the North American mainstream.

The verses find Helman in a reflective state, harkening back to people and places in his past who are no longer a part of his present. His performance is full of longing and palpable emotion as he sings, “Where are you now? Coming up, coming down? Memories are bullets, they get lodged in your head….” His sentiment is easy to grasp, but one never expects what happens next – at least, not on first listen.

Escalating fast, Helman pours himself out in an explosive, thrilling chorus. Out flows the pain, the passion, the heartfelt lament and resolve to move forward, rather than backward:

I miss my old friends,
they way we used to get fucked up

I miss my old friends
Couple skittles in the red cup
Guess you could say I’m better now,
Better than lying in a ditch but
I miss my old friends
Does it ever get better?
Scott Helman © 2021
Scott Helman © 2021
‘Cause I miss the lot by the old apartment
Where we dodged those cops cause we knew couldn’t fight them
And you said that you’d always have back, no one says that any more
Maybe happiness is a moving target
Where are you now?
Coming up, coming down?
Memories are bullets,
they get lodged in your head
I miss my old friends,
they way we used to get fucked up

I miss my old friends
Couple skittles in the red cup
Guess you could say I’m better now,
Better than lying in a ditch but
I miss my old friends
Does it ever get better?

“‘Old Friends’ is a song about a group you know that is bad for you, but you can’t help missing,” Scott Helman tells Atwood Magazine. “It stems from a time in my life when I was reckless, and when my company wasn’t always in good taste. Part of growing up is cleaning up your life, but that comes with its own pains, and I wanted to articulate that.”

“I wrote this song in LA. We had our verse, and it was sounding like a ballad about addiction, so we went in that direction. We had a melody for our chorus and we were working through the lyrics. After about 45 minutes of writing, I got a little bored of the sleepy vibe, and I stood up and asked Ryan (producer) to try smashing some chords after the verse instead. That was when I belted out “I MISS MY OLD FRIENDS,” an admission I hadn’t made to myself yet. The room sort of looked at each other, and we all knew that was the right direction.”

“There is an aspect of improving your life that involves guilt. There were friends that I had to “leave behind” that never got better, and that hurts. The last line of the chorus, “does it ever get better,” is a rumination on that bittersweet aspect of recovery.”

Helman’s musical breakdown feels like an emotional breakdown, finding him reckoning with where he is now, compared to where he used to be – and like he says, recognizing what is lost, and what is gained, along the way.

Does it ever get better than
Waking up stoned on a Sunday?
Cleaning up good on a Monday?
Dragging my feet through the weekday
Life was a joke and we all knew the punchline
I wish I was faded
On something unregulated,
Counting bills in the backseat
Of a silver Honda Civic by the underpass

Scott Helman's Heart Soars in Sophomore Album 'Nonsuch Park (sa)'

:: TRACK-BY-TRACK ::

Moving forward means sacrificing the past and leaving some loved ones behind. “Old Friends” is a beautiful, volatile tribute to the ones we lose along the way – we cherish their memories and the time we spent together, but we can’t stay with them (or in that place) anymore.

“Old Friends” is Scott Helman’s magnificent eruption: A powerful display of emotion that puts his talented artistry on full of display. Time will tell what more the artist has in store for us this year, but whatever it is, we’re listening.

I miss my old friends,
they way we used to get fucked up

I miss my old friends
Guess you could say I’m better now,
Better than lying in a ditch but
I miss my old friends
Does it ever get better?

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Stream: “Old Friends” – Scott Helman



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