Boyz & Girl: Boyz & Girl
- I have lately been lamenting the lack of shoegaze getting about. No thickly textured guitar noise to crash on me like a wave and carry all my troubles away. Boyz & Girl represent an unexpected, fuzzy, noisy care package, from China of all places. I've had the opportunity to listen to a number of bands rocking out in the big, red republic, lately, and, I'm sure I'm doing a gross injustice to one or two of them, but most that I've heard sound like rock'n'roll is not a thing they've grown up with. They produce a reflection of Western sounds that seems undigested, like they heard the music but didn't quite get the subtle and all important inflections, in-jokes and ironies. Not so Boyz & Girl. I'm guessing it has something to do with them coming from that little, militantly western enclave, Taiwan. Not only do they get it, but to listen to this, their second record, they've taken the old sound of shoegaze that we know and goldarn innovated with it. Using all-encompassing guitar intensity as a foundation they throw on rocking, as you'll hear from the heavy but quite melodic indie-rock of opener Ghost Parade. That's not all they do though. They bring quite poppy touches too; sometimes they strain to get through the wall of drone, but they're there for sure. The very next track, if you listen closely, sounds like old Buddy Holly ...filtered through a jet engine. Their alternate vocalist, Sonoko helps bolster the cutesy appeal, although the first track she appears on is fairly brutally rocking, with her driving trebles riding roughshod and slightly out of tune, across the top, that's a little jarring, but in a good way. They go easy on you with her second one, Cannot Touch, a slowly drifting, dream-pop lilt with a lead synth that pitch bends its way through: a nice combination. The song Passengers returns to their core, shoegaze sound with a vengeance: four minutes of swirling guitar haze. It's almost formless but easily one of the most effective and enjoyable songs on the album. They keep changing it up, with the bratty pop-rock of Kiss Me Blind before launching into what is becoming my favourite song on the album, Be My Friend, taking a compulsive indie rock melody with Sonoko singing sweetly over the top and slowly building the body and power of the rhythm section and then overlaying it with a bell-like guitar lead. Halfway through the rhythm dissolves into a torrent of crashing but still melodic noise, only to be drawn right back to an even more pleasantly restrained version of the original melody which then builds to an even bigger finish. It's a great song and it neatly adds post-rock to the list of things Boyz and Girl are about. The tracking for the album is very effective, the glacial quiet of The Cold, The War, contrasts smoothly with Be My Friend, before its echoing snares and shrill guitar take it screaming into the soon to be powerfully rocking New. The album finishes with what would be text-book post-rocking of Everyone, if it wasn't only three minutes in length, taking the sound from the most modest guitar plucking to a river of noise in record time. Boyz & Girl are a real surprise and with the variety of sounds they bring to this album, they don't get old, either. They bring indie-rock, pop, post-rock & perhaps most importantly they bring the shoegaze noise and they never stop.
- Chris Cobcroft.