Album Reviews

To My Boy – Messages

(XL) UK release date: 2 July 2007

Two boys make up this promising outfit and describe themselves on their Myspace site as “2 piece futurist pop made with guitar and computer. From Liverpool and Chesterfield we write letters to you”. Their names sound almost familiar – Sam White and Jack Snape. A kind of modest White Stripes with more plugs, then?

Well not really, though the Chesterfield element bears investigating, as singer White has a touch of the Phil Oakeys about him, occasionally giving a robotic campness, but stopping short of outright glam.

By all accounts it sounds like the duo had an enormous amount of fun recording Messages. It’s an album that holds many gems in its half hour, and left me reaching for the repeat button immediately. Initial impressions are of a beefed-up paean to industry and technology, clear for all to see in the song titles (Tell Me Computer, Oh Metal, Grid), and even more obvious to hear in the lyrics – “I have a model for you, I made on my computer”, proclaims Model proudly.

The admission of a love affair with technology does not, however, remove this record of charm and personality. Sure, White can automate rather well, but shows pleasing signs of cracking on Talk and Fear Of Fragility, where far more vulnerable human emotions are explored. It’s a side that removes any accusations of one dimensionality that were beginning to build after the perky bluster of the album�s first half.

Tunes and rhythms are something these chaps do well too. Eureka’s blustering drums could fill a warehouse with their OMD pretensions – and the tune would ensure all those present were singing along. Outerregions sounds like a souped-up version of Just Can’t Get Enough, an enjoyable stomp in the chorus giving way to more intimate asides in the verse. Meanwhile Talk’s synthesized counterpoint reveals more intricate orchestration, a fine example of the attention to detail the boys secure in their programming.

While the temptation is to lump To My Boy in with the Klaxons, Shitdisco and other purveyors of that sound everyone’s attaching the word ‘rave’ to, the truth is that while there’s a strongly danceable element to their music, these two have made an album that delights equally in lyrical vignettes and personal feelings. To come through an electronic album holding those principles aloft is an achievement worthy of respect.

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To My Boy – Messages