There has been a recent trend of European songstresses ditching their native tongue in favour of an Americana twang; witness if you will Swedish duo First Aid Kit‘s 2012 album The Lion’s Roar, which amassed a healthy following. Now it appears German/Swiss band Boy is following an identical template.
The similarities don’t end there, either. Both acts got their break via YouTube (First Aid Kit with an acoustic cover of Fleet Foxes’ Tiger Mountain Peasant Song and Boy with the self-penned Little Numbers). Both are also young, attractive female duos.
The only difference is that Boy seems primed to supersede their Swedish counterparts. Their debut LP Mutual Friends, despite getting bogged down in the middle stretch, is as an album undeniably catchy and, somewhat surprisingly, experimental.
The album is best represented by Little Numbers, the tune that initially brought them to public and record company attention. The swift change of tempo in the track exemplifies the girls’ tendency to swing from conventional to experimental while maintaining the essence of a decent pop hook and lyric.
A number of similarly constructed tracks open the album. This includes Waitress, a track whose song title is used as a metaphor to describe people who ‘wait’ for life to fall in their lap. Army and Drive Darling also exhibit their niche in writing classy pop fodder.
Yet Mutual Friends stumbles midway through. For whatever reason, the duo decide to sacrifice their penchant for penning a crafty tune for unnecessary orchestration. Perhaps such orchestration was thrown in to hide the weaker melodies of the middle tracks Railway, Waltz For Pony and the rather obscure Boris. Whatever the purpose, it tilts the album off-kilter.
Thankfully, the balance is restored with Oh Boy and Skin, both of which expand on the subtle pop of earlier tracks. The latter is reminiscent of Wings’ Another Day, with its “what happens when the party’s over?” sentimentality while Oh Boy sounds a lot like an out-take off Phoenix’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (Phoenix drummer Thomas Hedlund is a prominent contributor throughout the album). Companion songs Silver Streets and July – with its haunting trumpet solo – combine to climax the album and complete an impressive first effort.