Maddie & Tae’s new single “Friends Don’t” immediately lets you know the pair have matured. Lyrically and sonically this is a far cry from the pickin’ and smilin’ country songs that became signatures of their debut album.
The pop-friendly, sly revealing of the heart finds Maddie & Tae at a familiar crossroads. Simply put: they’re asking “What are we?” to a lover. While the anxiety of the moment is built with a rainy guitar lick and boom-hiss electronic drum beat (plus dynamic and dramatic harmonies), the duo don’t lyrically recognize a yearning to be more than friends until the final line of the chorus. After their melody swells and releases, as they’re about to transition, they say, almost as a throw away: “We do, but friends don’t …” The song turns there, becoming the thing we all anticipated as Maddie & Tae closed the first verse. The second verse of “Friends Don’t” is less unique, with Marlow and Dye singing of being downtown drunk and of nondescript futures. Jon Nite and Justin Ebach helped the duo write the song. After a long break, their return to radio is no grand statement, but recognition that times have changed since they released Start Here in 2015. They changed, too, remain sincere and authentic.