Boys Forever, aka former Veronica Falls drummer Patrick Doyle, purportedly wrote this album during a period of mental ill health. Having listened to Boys Forever I would concur — you don’t have to be Jessica Fletcher to hear the darkness evident beneath the sunny garage melodies. Fortunately Doyle employs wit and black humour along with the catchiest of indie-pop hooks to turn his depression into a shimmering creation.
Opening track ‘Poisonous’ sounds like someone who has listened to a hell of a lot of Beach Boys records (a common theme of the album) whilst actually being about paranoia, claustrophobia and self-loathing (also a common theme). “Who’s the guy that makes you feel uneasy? Who’s the guy who watches when you sleep?” it begins. For many people who’ve suffered with depression or anxiety the chorus’s refrain of, “Maybe this time they won’t see you’re poisonous, poisonous, poisonous it’s true” will lay bare the way in which socialising can be so uncomfortable an experience.
‘Poisonous’ is followed by ‘Falling Apart’, a short and slow-paced, jangly tale of London alcoholism and bitterness which maintains a wry sense of humour. The music is catchy enough, but the lyrics really provide the teeth. ‘Voice in my Head’ takes the dark lyrical themes a step further, towards suicidal ideation: “There’s a voice in my head and I don’t wanna hear it again/It says go down to the river/Everything’s easy when you’re sleeping”. The musical pop sensibility of the track sugars the bitter lyrical pill, rendering such harrowing themes accessible.
‘I Don’t Remember Your Name’ picks up the musical pace with soaring, uplifting guitar and drums that sound like the beat of a march but without the creepy military connotations, unless it’s an army of jangly indie-pop boys, singing poetically about not remembering names post-shag.
‘Things’ takes a more ominous turn. Musically this is very welcome as something Boys Forever could be accused of is sounding rather samey at points. There’s a creepiness to the music of ‘Things’ which recalls the darker side of Veronica Falls.
‘If You Don’t Mind’ is the track most likely raise a giggle to anyone who’s run into their ex after being dumped/uses social media/frequents hipster haunts. Doyle plainly describes the elephant in all of these rooms: “Can’t you see me trying so hard not to really try at all?/Standing on the shoulders of somebody I don’t even know”.
My biggest criticism of what is otherwise a shimmering little diamond of a dark indie-pop album goes back to that sameyness apparent on many of the tracks. The fact is that Boys Forever rarely changes pace. Small musical variations in tempo or atmosphere such as on ‘Things’ and ‘I Don’t Remember Your Name’ become ultra significant breaks from the Boys Forever norm and I would have liked to have heard a few more of them. However, the shimmery diamondness of the album still remains. This is the perfect record for a hung over bus journey, wondering where it all went wrong and being able to laugh about it.
7Len Lukowski's Score