Boy Kill Boy - Civilian
Tim Miller 22/05/2006
Having headlined the NME New Bands Tour recently and played Radio One's Big Weekend all within a couple of months, 2006 is shaping up to be BoyKillBoy's year. Their debut album, however, has some stiff competition to face: already Arctic Monkeys, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and iForward, Russia! have all had successful introductions to the British music scene this year.
It starts well enough; opener Back Again employs some scalic riffing, and a particularly harmonious up-beat chorus, thrashed out with no holds barred on the lavish arrangement. An epic synth ending helps get Civilian off to a breathless start. However, BoyKillBoy realise how good that formula is, and attempt to apply it to most of the songs here, like On and On and Civil Sin. The current single, Suzie, with its crunchy guitar chords, is another good song, in the sense that it will slot straight into the mainstream indie market no problem.
But while BKB have catchy and at times expansive choruses, synth driven with big drums and anthemic vocals, parts of the album slip by without making any sort of impression. Some of the songs trundle along at Snow Patrol pace, and Killer is a track which is anything but: it sounds like the 80s music you get on arcade racing games. The first time you listen to Ivy Parker, too, practically a ballad, it strikes you as beyond cheesy and potentially dreadful. Yet its simplistic chorus and yearning bridges actually stick around, gently seeping into the more compassionate parts of your subconscious; a song perfectly suited to the teen lovers making-up scene in The OC.
A lack of ear-catching riffs, and a tendency to play safe with their music, BoyKillBoy's album is a bit MOR. There's no real risk involved: enough people are bound to like it for it to be enough of a success, but there isn't any spark, and a struggle for any signs of further potential. At best, BoyKillBoy look set to be the next Feeder, making a similar sort of harder-edged pop rock: a singles band whose albums don't quite deliver, a live act supporting some of the great bands around but never headlining the big time shows. In other words, always the bridesmaid, never the bride.
As debuts go, then, BoyKillBoy won't be setting the charts on fire. Not entirely their fault, since 2006 has been an exceptional year for new music. But this is certainly not exceptional, and while it does have its moments, BoyKillBoy's debut Civilian ends up actually being pretty pedestrian.