BOY‘s debut album Mutual Friends (2011) had me hooked at first listen. “Skin” was the first song I learned to play on the guitar, and the voices of Valeska Steiner and Sonja Glass were the first I heard on the main stage at First Avenue. They’re kind of my absolute favorites. As such, I was thrilled to hear that their sophomore release We Were Here was arriving this fall. I’ve listened through it a few times now, and while I liked it initially, this album somehow leaves me a bit more satisfied each time I hear it.
We Were Here is the result of experimentation with new soundscapes while preserving the infectious indie/folk/pop sound that first drew listeners to “Skin” and “Little Numbers.” While WWH is fairly short for a full-length album (it’s just 9 songs), BOY’s new tracks incorporate more intricately crafted layers and an overall more mature sound. Their new songs feature drawn-out buildups, pleasant guitar licks, more intense bass and drums, and of course Steiner’s beautifully distinct voice over Glass’s airtight harmonies.
“New York” is the most upbeat tune of the bunch, with lyrics like “And the truth is/ I was wrong when I said I was bored/ any street that I’m walking on with you/ anywhere with you could be New York.” The acoustic version is superb, so I’d recommend listening to that version first. Surprisingly, my least favorite song is the title track, though its lyrics provide a great opener for the rest of the album: “Everything’s on the move/ the paint is wet, all colors are new/ But if you look carefully, you’ll see us shining through.” My most-loved has got to be “Flames,” which I think best shows the duo’s ability to write emotionally captivating lyrics. “If I knew how/ I’d calm your nights/ And soothe your soul/ And I’d clear your sight/ Oh, I would fix you/ I’d put things back in place/ And wave goodbye to nightlong days.”
While there is currently only a mixed version of We Were Here available, I suspect that an acoustic version will drop sometime in the coming months, if 2013’s Mutual Friends double release is any clue. Their label, Groenland Records, has also posted several acoustic versions of tunes from WWH on YouTube. While I definitely preferred the acoustic version of Mutual Friends to the remastered album, it’s a much harder choice for We Were Here.This album shines with BOY’s familiar charm and upgraded instrumentation, and is headed to my list of favorites for sure.