Live Music + Gig Reviews

Boy Kill Boy @ Irish Centre, Birmingham

19 October 2006

Boy Kill Boy have withstood a fair amount of criticism since coming to the nation’s attention earlier this year. The biggest accusation levelled at them is that they sound like a hybrid of all the cool indie bands of the moment, without actually being as good as any of them.

There’s an element of truth to this, and consequently their debut album is already beginning to date. Spiky guitars and synths were the best thing since sliced bread when The Killers came out with Hot Fuss, but now they’ve moved on, amd so has cool indie.

Civilian, their debut, is actually a more consistent album than Hot Fuss and even betters it at times, but their almost opportunistic, derivative sound was always going to hamper them. Having said that, they’ve still managed to carve out a loyal fanbase, and shown enough promise to suggest that maybe they have something more to offer in the future, rather than merely being a “now” band.

Shoot Me Down has been released to coincide with this tour, and as the fourth release from Civilian, it feels like the hundredth. There’s a promising new song on display tonight, but there should be more. The momentum gained from the debut’s success has died down now, and endless single releases won’t help that.

If they don’t hurry up they may well be left behind for good, which would be a shame, as these lads blew the roof of the Irish Centre tonight with a powerhouse performance. Back Again, Civil Sin and Suzie are all huge, but the night’s standout is Ivy Parker. The epic ballad is one of the album’s few moments where they sound like nobody else, and benefits from some extra live power.

There’s too much concern for indie credentials amongst bands, when what really matters is the songs. They may be derivative, but Boy Kill Boy have a clutch of impossibly catchy pop anthems that make quibbles about originality seem pointless.

They hardly exude charisma onstage, but make up for that in the frenetic energy of their songs. As a live band, they’re watertight, but almost too much so. A bit of ragged looseness wouldn’t go amiss, as it does all sound a little polished. No-one in the capacity crowd is complaining, though. They’ve come for a singalong, and aren’t disappointed.

As for the new song, it sounds like a conscious and welcome attempt to move away from the debut’s sound. It bounces along in a Kooksy way – which may not sound particularly exciting – but at least it’s a start.

They have plenty to offer, but if they regurgitate Suzie again and again, they’re screwed, and likely to become this generation’s Gene or Sleeper. The bar has been raised for bands like this, and they have alot to live up to. Judged purely on tonight’s performance, you’d be a fool to write them off.

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More on Boy Kill Boy
Boy Kill Boy @ Irish Centre, Birmingham
Boy Kill Boy @ Silver Sturgeon, London