You don't even know me. I've got a dark side y'know...
The Boyfriends. The Editors. The Dead 60s, The Isles, The Long Blondes, The Subways, The Von Bondies, The Libertines, The Streets etc, etc, etc. What is it with bands these days? Not since the Sixties and Seventies has there been such a predilection amongst new fangled groups to stick "The" in their handle. It went out of vogue in the Eighties of course - Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Ultravox, Visage, Starship, Five Star et al saw to that. But it is now back with a vengeance. "The" is cool again, probably because it conjures illusions of definitive grandeur. The word "The" adds a perceived gravitas, an arresting fortitude to any band name you can think of. Well, maybe not The Wurzels, but you can apply it to almost anything else. How about "The Hairdressers" or "The Trainspotter", or "The Fornicators"? Just by putting "The" in the title apparently adds authority and credence to the band - before you've heard them play a note.
The Boyfriends blurb shouts that the band has been acclaimed by such luminaries as Lauren Laverne and Simon Amstell and their gigs have been attended by members of Suede and Radiohead. Does any name in that list seem incongruous to you? Yep...Amstell. The ardent support of the pixie-shaped frizzy-headed Frodo Baggins doppelganger co-host muppet of Popworld (who might or might not be named after a rather unpalatable foreign beer - though they are strikingly similar: gassy, bland and a significant contributor to Saturday night punch-ups) adds no credibility whatsoever to the promotional 1-sheet. To be honest, I'd rather follow geographical directions from Saddam Hussein than listen to the rubbish that gushes forth from his cherry-lipped, beady-eyed visage. But, bearing in mind that I'm in love with Lauren Laverne, I'll let it slide.
Based in London and getting good nationwide exposure, The Boyfriends release "I Love You", their debut, on February 13th. And on vinyl. Vinyl. Vinyl! They're getting an extra point for that immediately. As one who keeps the analogue spirit alive myself (cheers Nadeem), it's good to see that some bands still embrace the glorious format of the groove and needle. One simple test if you don't believe it's better: Get yourself a copy of "After The Goldrush" by Neil Young on 12", listen to it and then try to convince me that the CD sounds better. You won't. And if you try, I'll have you beaten to a pulp by midgets armed with harmonicas until you change your mind and kiss my boots.
Let's get back on track. Superior melodic riffs soon blow the cobwebs out of the feedback-drenched introduction to "I Love You" and the excellent production combines the instrumentation and vocal impeccably. Singer Martin Wallace evokes the delicate romanticism and stoicism of Morrissey and Robert Smith, (like many a contemporary indie-rock hero) and while it doesn't sound particularly revelatory or fresh, his voice is strong and true. The lyrics are also simple but provoking - it's hard to work out if it is drowned in irony or a straight ode to love but then that's the hook.
For any band to claim "I really do feel that it's the most important British pop record for years" takes a lot of guts. He may not be right (I'd argue that it's "I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor" by Artic Monkeys - not just for the tune itself but for the emergence of the download chart as a commercial force to be reckoned with) but it's a cracker nonetheless. Thank God I finally got something decent to review - I was about to cave in and get that Hall & Oates album out of storage.