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Boy – Mutual Friends (Review)

BOY, Mutual Friends

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

HAMBURG duo Boy are – paradoxically – two girls who have perfected the art of the catchy pop track. Hence, their debut album Mutual Friends is one to treasure.

Described as an autobiographical affair, the album offers 12 songs that tell the story of the two girls – Valeska Steiner and Sonja Glass – from different lands, who met, became friends, began making music together and struck a chord with everyone who heard them.

Melodically, the songs they deliver are beautifully composed and often breezy in the extreme. Yet beneath that sweet surface lies inventive twists, adding subtle experimental touches to a conventional pop palette of piano, guitar, drums and bass.

Hence, while tracks like Little Numbers (for which they remain best known) offer bouncing piano chords, clap-happy beats and toe-tapping harmonies, there’s a sense of longing in the lyrics that reflect a giddy desire. It’s a track born out of impatience yet is colourfully delivered to provide one of the catchiest anthems you’re likely to hear in a long time (complete with ‘wa-oh wa-oh’ chorus).

On slower numbers like Waltz For Pony, meanwhile, there’s a subtle guitar backdrop for a melancholy set of vocals to reflect on lyrics such as “time is such a hungry beast, it swallows all my memories”. It’s a nice contrast to the duo’s breezier moments and displays the depth of feeling of their song-writing.

Yet throughout, Steiner and Glass consistently surprise and enchant. Boris, for instance, has a bluesy twang attached to its pop and a fiery set of vocals (which implore the subject to get out of town soon), while Oh Boy offers a breeze-pop slice of feel-good song-writing that’s dripping in perfect melodies and lush vocals.

Opening track This Is The Beginning similarly sets things in motion in toe-tapping style (complete with glockenspiel-style beats and lovely acoustic arrangements), Waitress maintains the early feel-good vibe with cute banjo licks and foot-stomping beats, and Army combines honey-sweet vocals with thought-provoking lyricism.

Elsewhere, Railway is a bittersweet pop gem, complete with subtle use of strings, Skin combines kick-ass handclap beats with gutsy guitars and horns and July brings things to a close in layered, bittersweet yet utterly beautiful fashion.

It’s safe to say, though, that BOY don’t really put a foot wrong. Their album is chock full of classics in waiting, providing listeners with a lovely soundtrack to their lives as well as offering countless soundtrack opportunities for film and TV directors. Expect to hear a lot from them in the future.

Watch the video for Little Numbers:

Download picks: Little Numbers, Waltz For Pony, Boris, Oh Boy, Waitress, Skin, Railway, July

Track listing:

  1. This Is The Beginning
  2. Waitress
  3. Army
  4. Little Numbers
  5. Drive Darling
  6. Railway
  7. Waltz for Pony
  8. Boris
  9. Oh Boy
  10. Skin
  11. Silver Streets
  12. July