Apr 3, 2013

Why BOY Is The Best Band You’re Not Listening To

By Mike Horky

The recent music trend in our culture seems to be foreign bands releasing albums in English instead of their native tongues. Bands like Of Monsters And Men, First Aid Kit, and Phoenix have all become popular in the United States, forfeiting their own language to cater to American audiences. While some people would prefer First Aid Kit to sing in their native Swedish, or Of Monsters And Men in Finnish, I can’t complain about it, or hide the fact that I really enjoy how these bands sound. Their style fits perfectly into American culture, and brings us a fresh sound from places we generally don’t get music from. So when I stumbled across BOY, a Swiss-German pop duo from Hamburg, I couldn’t resist taking a good, long listen at their debut album. And I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t the best album I’ve heard in a long while.

Mutual Friends was released in Europe in 2011, but didn’t hit the states until late last month. I can’t necessarily say the wait was worth it because I wish I had been listening to this two years ago when it first came out. From the first track entitled "This Is The Beginning", I was hooked. It opens with the catchy plucks of a guitar and the hauntingly subtle essence of percussion and bass, and flows into a light and gentle chorus. It’s a beautiful progression that never goes beyond the acoustic driven melodies of lead singer Valeska Steiner, and the beautiful harmonies supported by bassist Sonja Glass. The song fantastic start to an album, boasting a title that suggests that not only is this the beginning of their album, but also the beginning of their careers as musicians. It’s a career that I can see lasting a long while.

From the opening track, the album then jumps into a few pop-influenced tracks before settling back into the acoustic sound and delivering the most powerful and impressive songs of the entire album. While "Waitress", "Little Numbers", and "Army" are very good songs on their own (and will definitely be playing whenever I drive), they aren’t nearly as resonant as songs like "Waltz For Pony", "Boris", and "July". The latter three really showcase the duo’s talents, not only in instrumentals, but in lyrical quality as well. "Boris" is the standout for me, not because it’s instrumentally complex (acoustic guitar, backed by a powerful progression of bass and percussion later on), but because the lyrical quality and powerhouse vocals of Valeska Steiner resonate long after the song has finished.

The album plays out not so much as a story, but more as a collection of shorts, each one leaving you feeling as satisfied as the last. But although the songs may not progress as a cohesive story, they mostly fit together very well. A few are more single driven (the few pop songs), and feel more like a preview of the other sounds the band can and might accomplish later in their career. However, I think BOY has found the right sound to start on, and I cannot wait to hear more from them in the future.

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