Long standing purveyors of scuffed up indie pop Boyracer return with a record that’ll make you grin, and possibly pogo. What’s not to like?
It’s hard to keep a good genre down, to coin a phrase: and the once-maligned ‘tweepop’ – the bands that followed on in the wake of the NME’s C86 compilation of 60s’-informed, chiming guitarpop, for so long on the critical ropes, has come back fighting in recent years.
Once barely worthy of a mention in the weekly British music inkies – remember them? – documentaries such as the Sarah Records exploration My Secret World and Glasgow guitar-pop film Teenage Superstars have shed new light on a scene whose devoted worldwide fanbase grows daily. Similarly, the torch has been passed down through groups such as the much -missed Allo Darlin’, Spain’s Hinds and lately Canadian guitar wonderkids Alvvays.
And now back into the fray with their 13th album in total, and first in some 12 years, step former Sarah Records stalwarts Boyracer, with the 17-track whirlwind On A Promise. Relocated from the grey skies of Yorkshire to Texas, main man Stewart has recalled long-time members Matty, Jen, Ged and Ara – and also the services of Laura Bridge (who left Boyracer in 1991, and who was subsequently a member of Leeds first-generation post-rockers Hood), as well as the services of erstwhile labelmates Even As We Speak’s Mary and Anita.
So: have Boyracer stuck to their indiepop guns? The immediate rush of opener Hit And Miss dispels any doubts. It’s a proper ‘POP!’ of the stripe that 80s’ fanzine polemicists would theorize about through photocopied red-ink pages, all fuzz and acid-tinny lead guitar breaks, bouncing along right in your face a la prime-era Pooh Sticks or Groove Farm. At 1 minute 56, it’s a short, sweet call to the dancefloor for a slam. It’s fun over finesse, and the finest of fare.
And with about half the tracks on the album clocking in either below, or just over, the two-minute threshold, you’re led through a little parade of fizzbombs that’ll leave you wanting more.
So Long is a lovely, organ-driven pop charge, which erupts in psych squall before it vanishes as quickly as it came.Positively Driven, during which Stuart announces that he’s “happy to be typecast” is a forthright little acoustic number, before fuzz pedals are stomped again for Hidden Memories and the romping, Pastelesque singalong, The Rest Of Yr Life – drapes of feedback, 12-string lead riff and whoops all accounted for.
Girl In A Soul Band sees Stuart declaiming ” Wish … I could sing … like a girl … in a soul band” over a fuzz-bass riff that could’ve easily done service on This Nation’s Saving Grace, although the brass on this track is definitely more June Brides than Memphis Horns. Follower Move On Up isn’t the 70s’ soul classic given a rerub, but it is another Breton fisherman’s topped stomper – all 83 seconds of it.
Clocking in at 3 minutes 35, closer Entitled is another with a little sprinkle of prime-era Fall in its veins – that cracking fuzz bass riff, the staccato chantalong, with a sadness in lines like “It’s hard when you’re young, but it’s harder when you’re older” – even with some sax skronk as the album concludes.
An album heavy on summer grins and loud guitars, Boyracer are back; will this convert you? The jury’s out on that one, although there’s enough nuggets here to keep anyone with a penchant for perfectly trashy squallpop contented. Although maybe you should ask yourself this: if you’re not yet a convert, why aren’t you?