Wednesday, March 18, 2009

the boy least likely to...

I just got the new album by The Boy Least Likely To, and I want to hate it but I just can't. It's adorable. It's disgustingly adorable. I loved the first album, Best Party Ever, because of its cuteness, because of the xylophone and the banjo and all the weird little toy sounds. I loved songs like "Be Gentle with Me" and "I See Spiders when I Close My Eyes" and "My Tiger My Heart" because they are about the insecurities and fears of growing up when we are forced to let go of not only childhood toys but also childhood ways of thinking and seeing the world. The Boy Least Likely To manages to keep that childlike perspective. One of my favorite songs from the first album, "Be Gentle with Me" has lyrics like "I'm happy because I'm stupid, scared of spiders, scared of flying. If I wasn't so happy I wouldn't be so scared of dying. So just be gentle with me, and I'll be gentle with you." And from "Papercuts" there are lines like "Nothing stays the same, I wish I could remain the color of the cherry blossom tree, I've always been in love with you. I used to read before I went to sleep, now I just pass out watching T.V." It's sad and sweet and honest, but pretty cutesy. And so a second album I knew would be just too much, especially if they kept up with the same style and type of childish songs. And they did, and it is too much. But I love it. I can't help it. I roll my eyes and tap my feet and relate to the coming of age silliness.

I tend to be a little bit skeptical of sophomore albums, especially if the first one was a bit of a success. I don't want the band to find themselves stuck in a rut because the first things they did worked so well. I feel like they lose something, some genuineness that was there in the first album. And so that's why I want to hate this album, and why I roll my eyes when I listen to it. It's really more the same stuff. We have songs like "The Boy with Two Hearts" and "A Balloon on a Broken String" and a song about a cat called "Whiskers", and lyrics that stick to the theme of being a childlike grownup: "If I want to feel something I stick pencils up my nose." Yup. And there's a song about making lemons into lemonade. The xylophone, banjo and toy noises (cogs and whistles) are still there. And like I said I can't help but love it, in an uncomfortably cynical way. It's weird. I particularly like the song "The Boy with Two Hearts". Set to tinkling xylophone and a "oohmp oohmp" tuba are lyrics like "I know I'm not much fun to be with, but you love me all the same. And someday i can hopefully just go back to being myself." Hmm. I can't say that I necessarily relate to this, but I see how it expresses the struggles of a young person in a relationship. My favorite song on the album, however, is "Every Goliath Has Its David". Hand claps and high pitched strings accompany "And I know [rest 2, 3, 4] Kung fu [rest 2, 3, 4] and I'm not afraid of you!" It's an anthem to the underdog.

There used to be this genre of pop music in England in the '70s and '80s called "Twee" and this reminds me of some of those bands. If The Boy Least Likely To is not as twee as f**k I dont know what is.

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