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With a squeal of feed-back, a riff of purest indie-disco and Richard Brooke’s crisp first line, “You love pop songs about love more than being in love in the first place”, This Many Boyfriends and their self-titled debut album burst out of the speakers in a blast of nostalgia, the sound of a beleaguered genre returning to the modern day, a return to the indie of old.
This Many Boyfriends may be short, but it’s nothing less than a mission statement. Lyrically and sonically, the album is an audio compilation of the band’s record collections, managing to jam in namedrops as diverse as Talking Heads, Kylie and Jason, and Bruce Springsteen. Fronted by lead vocals that combine Morrisey’s best deadpan delivery with Ryan Jarman’s Yorkshire drawl (and, let’s face it, it’s not only the accent that invites Cribs comparisons), This Many Boyfriends have thrown out a first album that all but forces the listener to visualise their evident delight in making it.
Whilst the oh-so-jangly guitar and dry witticisms do certainly bring to mind Johnny Marr’s other, big brother band, there’s no sign of the Smiths’ literary obsessions nor of their famed misery. Indeed, the band lost rhythm guitarist Peter Sykes to a brain haemorrhage in 2011, but maintain that drawing on his death for inspiration would have belittled it, instead choosing to play on his memory and to keep their music as light-hearted as possible. On the whole, the songs are short, sharp and sweet, often accompanied by a lyrical cousin of indie rom-coms like Juno or (500) Days of Summer.
Opener, ‘Tina Weymouth’ sets the bar for the record, including indie-punk, many a janglin’ guitar and nostalgic, sweet lyrics centred on the Eighties, sounding like a slightly beefed up Los Campesinos! Next up, ‘Young Lovers Go Pop!', which - pleasing pun notwithstanding - is a step-up, with murky, churning guitars and acapella Futureheads-style backing vocals.
In line with their refusal to write music about anything except music, ‘Communist’ is hardly a political spiel but instead reflects “I should be a communist, I tried, I failed. I’m far too decadent.”, then kicks into a soaring bubblegum pop chorus. Current single ‘Number 1’ is a slight departure in style, rather like the quieter songs on the Vaccines’ debut. It’s quite nice, but the band are evidently having more fun on the breakneck, sunny songs than this slightly more reflective offering.
“I didn’t leave when you said you didn’t like Springsteen. I didn’t even flinch when you said you hated the Go-Betweens. But what you said about Baby Honey was truly unforgivable, so I had to cry. I don’t like you cos you don’t like the Pastels” – and a million future indie-discos kick off, pints spill and old cliques bearhug each other. Much like ‘Hey Scensters!’, ‘Caught By The Fuzz’ and most Larrikin Love singles, this is pure indie disco gold. Punky, poppy and lyrics that you can pull absurd faces to. It also sounds, for all This Many Boyfriends’ referencing of street-cred worthy indie giants, an awful lot like Avril Lavigne’s “Hey hey, you you, I don’t like your girlfriend” song... so there’s that.
With ‘That’s What Diaries Are For’ comes the album’s most Cribs-esque track, but closer to their more recent releases than their early noughties albums, as referenced elsewhere on This Many Boyfriends. But with references to Kylie and fanzines, it’s still firmly stuck in the 1980s.
Closer ‘Everything’ is certainly the album’s darkest song, with detuned guitar bends and less saccharine lyrics – possibly a sign of things to come, now they’ve proved how much they love fun, indie pop and more fun. And with a skwark of feedback, the album zips out as quickly as it had begun. Short, sharp and sweet; coming in at less than 45 minutes.
It might be shameless navel-gazing 'indie about indie' (about indie?) – but the name dropping is second to the musical quality of the homages the band render to their pin-ups. Though it’s nothing revolutionary, in an age where decent straight up indie seems rather rare and unfashionable, it’s certainly worth a listen.
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