Just when you finally solved the riddle of the The Men and MEN, the former being a Brooklyn based hardcore band while the latter is the New York based feminist punk rock group, comes BOY a feminist folk rock duo. Don’t worry though the all-caps spelled band is from Germany, so there shouldn’t be much confusion, although you may find yourself hearing familiar sounds off of Mutual Friends the debut album from Valeska Steiner and Sonja Glass.
Mutual Friends is indeed the debut album for BOY, but it’s already been around a year over in the European market. It kind of surprises me that in the modern age albums still get released on different continents at different times. It’s especially surprising that it’s an English album, but it’s still being released a whole year later than it did in Europe. I suppose it just goes to show that record labels still have power, and that it’s not completely user driven as some may think. Nevertheless we have an album that is ready to take over the void left from the last Feist album, because the sound you may find is eerily similar. It’s perhaps a tad unfair to immediately compare them to Feist, but Valeska’s voice is so similar to Leslie Feist’s that when you hear “Little Numbers” the debut single, it’s hard not to think that it’s directly cut from The Reminder. It’s also maybe a tad unfair to criticize a sound, when it’s a good sound, a catchy sound, even if it does sound a lot like another sound. Does every single new album and every band that comes out have be under the guise of being original, even if we do accept that all music is derivative? The truth is while BOY on the surface may live in Feist country, it’s very much its own independent state. Steiner and Glass are two young talented songwriters that have made it this far, not by fluke by sounding like Feist, but by catchy rhythms and soothing vocals. North American audiences will take to BOY just as quickly as they took to Feist. Afterall this is folkpop, a brand of music that generally doesn’t bring pull in new listeners, but it will satisfy coffee shop audiophiles. The album itself though while full of catchy sweet tunes, does lack some bite to be truly lasting. With the aptly titled first track “This is the Beginning” it starts a journey that feels like it could take off but never does. “Waitress” and “Drive Darling” are sweet little tracks, but the themes feel very college radio. “Boris” is a stand out track, because it finally feels like there’s some layers peeling off the sheen of BOY, however again it never takes off like it should. “July” is the last track but it might be the strongest because by adding secondary instruments, like the piano and trumpet, it gives the song just an added layer of depth that the previous tracks lack even if they are solid.
BOY have debuted a strong album that has some good songwriting, and from a couple of young girls from Eastern Europe it should be able to make a decent splash in North America. The girls are incredibly cute, which will also do them well in garnering new fans, as their music videos peppered with lens flares complement their photogenic faces. Valeska really does have a great voice, whether it sounds like Feist or not, when BOY finally does start to hit North American stages, I have no doubt audiences will take to them here as they did overseas.
– Michael Unger