We Americans like to think we are on the cusp of “what’s hot,” setting trends in music for the rest of the world to follow. But as indie pop Swiss-German, Hamburg-based duo BOY demonstrates, America sometimes has some catching up to do.
Most of us in the States have never heard of BOY, but for the past several years Valeska Steiner and Sonja Glass have been building a huge following across Europe—and with the official release of their debut album Mutual Friends this week in North America (released in Europe last summer), Americans are about to find out just what makes this band so popular.
As it turns out, less is more. In stark contrast to the EDM and electro-pop club scenes that are so hot across Europe right now, BOY chooses simple, understated arrangements driven by acoustic guitar, piano, bass and drums, with only the occasional drum loop thrown in for emphasis. A little too folky to be rock, and a little too mainstream to be folk, the duo combines elements of all of these genres with insightful lyricism to find a happy middle ground that apparently appeals to quite a lot of people.
The album Mutual Friends kicks off with the relatively mellow “This Is the Beginning”, giving the impression that we’re about to have a more downtempo experience—but the record consistently builds momentum and intensity as the track list progresses. I found myself liking BOY more and more with each progressive song. High points of the record include the emotionally upbeat “Army,” a song about people who lift us up (“They are the love above the love”); the catchy love song “Little Numbers” (video below); and the grittier, folksy “Boris,” dealing with the guy with one thing on his mind: “I heard your boyfriend is out of town / I said ‘Yes, and you should get out of town too.’” But really, you could pick a song out of the album at random, and you’d find something to like about it.
To help promote their album’s stateside release, BOY is planning a set of tour dates in the U.S. and Canada during March, and word on the street is they are terrific live–check out their website to see if they’re coming to a town near you. Meanwhile, Mutual Friends is a fantastic debut for a band with a fresh sound and a bright future. I’m so glad America gets to catch up, and I can’t wait to hear more.