Monday, October 08, 2012
THIS MANY BOYFRIENDS This Many Boyfriends
“You love pop songs about love more being in love in the first place" As with their earlier releases and their origins - 'I Don’t Like You (Because You Don’t Like The Pastels)’ and taking their name from a Beat Happening song - This Many Boyfriends are here awash with fan-worship name-checking. Their debut album even threatens to out-do earlier levels of obsession: ‘Tina Weymouth’ as well as referencing “Stop Making Sense” includes a shouted chorus of album titles (“You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever / Come On Feel The Lemonheads / Searching For The Young Soul Rebels / You’re Oh So Silent Jens”).
I was a relative late-comer to This Many Boyfriends, first encountering their live show last February supporting Allo Darlin’ just as single ‘Starling’ was released (as a fanzine of course). The Leeds band, together since 2009, had already released a seven track EP and a three track single and suffered the tragic death of a band member. Such catastrophe could sink any band but particularly a young – and by their admission – relatively untutored one. Or put a deeply morbid spin on their song-writing. But for their debut long-player, the five-piece – Richard on vocals, Tom on bass, Daniel on guitar, Laura on drums and new recruit Ben also on guitar - as well as sticking with first-name only informality, have kept to the spirit of their original ramshackle twee-punk sound and retained their firm adoration of pop music. This ten track long-player brings together re-recordings (or new mixes?) of four earlier singles with six newer songs, all produced by Ryan Jarman. The re-recording tempers the earlier wilful lo-fi nature of This Many Boyfriends but there’s still a gritty reverb-heavy roughness backed by a jangle-and-clatter solidity that feels reassuringly familiar.
The playground crush euphoria of ‘Young Lovers Go Pop!’ and the purist indignation of 'I Don’t Like You (Because You Don’t Like The Pastels) still zip along at a thumping perilous pace; and overall there’s a timeless could-have-come-from-any-decade-since-the-eighties quality to their indiepop songs and references – jumpers, daydreams, school bullies. But it never sounds contrived, backward-looking or like nostalgic pastiche. The Smiths-like doubt and domestic pre-occupations of ‘(I Should Be A) Communist’ or the sweet chiming guitars and knitwear of ‘Number 1’; or the bah-bah-bah harmonies of ‘You Don’t Need To Worry’ have a feisty and fresh immediacy. The band brilliantly capture and distil a youthful delirious excitement, whether their own or inspired by their musical heroes, and make it feel of the here and now. There’s poignancy and sadness and regret too in the lyrics – but the feeling that sticks most, maybe because of those depths, is elation.
There’s a moment of doubt about musical inspiration and vinyl collecting in the opening song “these records they might stay / I might be a better person without them”. This Many Boyfriends should banish such qualms. For once, indebtedness and fan worship is a very good thing here. The referential nature of the songs is great fun but “This Many Boyfriends” (the album) gets its identity and success not from the name-checking, the musical touchstones or from its producer; This Many Boyfriends (the band) sound who are they are because of themselves. A great, heart-felt, noisy indie-pop record to rank alongside Tigercats “Isle Of Dogs“ as one of this year’s best. Out today and accompanied by live gigs in Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester, Sheffield, Leicester, Cardiff, Edinburgh and York.
This Many Boyfriends This Many Boyfriends [BUY]