On their sophomore LP, the lengthily named The Boys With the Perpetual Nervousness dig into a wealth of US power pop and ‘80s collegiate jangle that might fit in well with the recently sprung set Strum & Thrum. The record carries an earnestness that’s admirable, playing its heart-stung swoons without hint of tongue near the cheek. The Boys are wrapping their heartache in a cavalcade of hooks that are rather hard to ignore as they flip through an alternate history radio station where Superdrag’s second LP got the praise it deserved, Teenage Fanclub topped everyone’s list over Nirvana in ’91 and Matthew Sweet kept on writing songs for Choo Choo Train rather than split solo. It’s a world where emotional honesty never quite went out of style and perfect pop simply meant that the chords got bigger and brighter.
On paper, as out of fashion with the zeitgeist of pop as it might sound, the band pulls it off with a freshness that doesn’t seem so much like they’re holding onto the past as traveling that alternate timeline in earnest. The strums are huge and swimming around the speakers, the keys crisp as a ray of sun and the harmonies tend to warm the heart even when the tone swings bittersweet. I’m always going to be a sucker for a record that goes this hard on mining the melancholy ache that lies between the jangle and strum, but even without my admitted bias, it’s hard not to admire The Boys for the sheer audacity of their ardor. It’s possible that this may get lost in the froth of music coverage in 2021, but as with some of the most admirable pop albums, there’s a very good chance that Songs From Another Life will find a niche that reveres it for the double stacked hooks and cardigan-clad care that’s gone into it.
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