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Boy: Boy

REVIEW: Boy: Boy
6.2.2002 by Sean

Boy : s/t [Self-released, 2001]

Three words? Tell your friends.

What's most astonishing about Boy's first record is not the first-rate production, nor the urban lyricism of the songs, nor even the shakin', radio-worthy melodies - it's that you haven't heard of these blokes before. As the critical world goes ga-ga over the Strokes and Rufus Wainwright, as we go half-mad waiting for Beck's new record, there comes along a couple of guys from Whitehorse (yes, the Yukon!) who take all this - and more - combine it, and yes - yes! - make it work.

Boy runs the gamut from messy, downtown Bran Van rock-pop ("Agent Red"), to the bopping "French Diplomacy", threaded with flute and horns, where strings blend with guitars, kicking the ass of similar attempts by the Ben Folds Five. Kozmeniuk's songwriting bathes in the glare of streetlights, the grit of a grey, city wind. His voice is equal parts sneer and warble - he's positively channelling Wainwright on "1982", "Stars in Your Living Room" glows with a Sloan-like aura, a haunting David Bowie seems to make an appearance on "Gentlemen", "Hollywood"'s vocoder smirks at Cher. Throughout the album, Kozmeniuk also demonstrates considerable skill as a producer, mixing LP scratches with hearty piano-chords and garage-dirty guitar squeals. Though the album suffers from a frustrating consistency of intensity - many of the songs have a similar time-signature and density of tracks - it's a minor quibble when, individually, the tracks are so fine. Boy has an appreciation for rock'and'roll, but also a healthy respect for the poetry of Dylan and Lennon - unlike the blues skronk of the White Stripes, Boy never lets its noise supersede the preeminence of the song.

On this album, the sheer force of Boy's talent skyrockets the band out of the mass of unknown artists, showcasing the way Pro Tools and a PC can compete with the best NYC studios. Like a younger, still-vigorous John Oszajca, the band throws surprise-after-surprise into the mix, tossing Monkees melodies in with Supergrass distortion. Each song is carefully crafted, each unfolds new sounds on each listen, but at the same time, this is not haughty rock-for-critics: it's down, it's dirty, it's catchy and it's smart. Given the resources that produced it, the album is thoroughly incredible, and Boy deserves to be heard. Boy deserves to be huge.

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