Brisbane can be shitty in a lot of ways: it’s hot all the time, there are a lot of racists, and it’s pretty ugly to look at. But every now and then a record like this comes out of our big country town, and goddamn it makes you proud.
A little while ago we brought you ‘Elissa Says’, the first single from James X. Boyd & The Boydoids self-titled debut album. Now you can wrap your ears around the whole thing in digital form, with a cassette due out before too long.
This is (with a couple of exceptions). an album of love songs. Love songs in which the word ‘c*nt-wits’ is used, but love songs all the same. It starts off gently with ‘Blue Apia’, a tropical paradise set to delicate, wistful strumming that recalls old Hawaiian records and apparently “the only place in the world you can still buy cans of new coke”.
‘New Town Tango’ and ‘Brunswick Street Junkies’ paint pictures of suburbs in very different lights, but Boyd seems to be fighting himself in both songs. The former starts out with that very pretty jangly guitar that is used to great effect all through this record, but builds to a more aggressive point near the end, Boyd seemingly unable to answer his own question when he asks “and do I need you back?”. In the latter he perfectly expresses the mix of sympathy and repulsion that junkies conjure, with a few instantly relatable lines.
The middle of the record reveals the emotional centre; three sweet, restrained ballads, the highlight of which is ‘Baby Green’, where Boyd plays a sage advisor. “Quit your job and we can see what the world’s like/ and I know there’s things stopping you/ and they, won’t let up/ but it’s not quite as hard as it may seem”.
There are a lot of beautiful things about this album. Boyd’s restraint and lightness of touch is striking, along with the band’s ability to communicate lyrics that are both immediately endearing and honest. My favourite track is ‘For What You’re Worth’, which reveals a more cynical side of the band. During the chorus the music cuts out, leaving Boyd to throw a question into the ether, before the meandering guitar comes back in, leaving him again unanswered. The dark and dusty ‘Diamond On Your Own’ and soft, lilting single ‘Elissa Says’ close out the record. But if you’re anything like me, you’ll be putting it straight back on before the last note even ends.
Support these guys by purchasing the full album here.