When it comes to the world of rock music there are few who push the boundaries more than those bands playing what is most commonly referred to as “math” or “noise” rock. Like abstract art, math and noise rock ask the listener to focus on elements of music that they may not be accustomed to, eschewing traditional melodies and verse-chorus-verse structure in favor of radical time signatures and progressions. Like even the most abstract art however there is beauty in challenging music and while learning to appreciate it asks a bit more of the listener than most music, the rewards can be that much greater. Local three-piece Boyfrndz are just such a challenging act and their new LP, All Day Pass, is a solid addition to Austin’s musical landscape that begs to be understood.
A quick trip to Boyfrndz Bandcamp page will reveal such descriptive tags as: experimental, noise-pop, and shoegaze. While that collection of terms may have some of you scratching your heads, it’s all valid in its own fashion. Boyfrndz play an atmospheric, electric jumble of cacophonous guitar rhythms and break-neck drum beats, judiciously slathered in reverb-laden vocals and underscored by moody bass lines. The end result is a sound that alternates between the massive swells of post-rock guitar groups like Explosions in the Sky, the pedal-heavy shoegaze sounds of My Bloody Valentine, and the math-like precision of Don Caballero and Tera Melos. You won’t find a ton of catchy hooks or toe-tapping melodies here. There are no “happy little trees” in this painting; it’s much more interesting than that. With music like this you just need to let it work on you and I’ve found that Boyfrndz know what they’re doing in this regard.
My one criticism for All Day Pass has to do with the vocals. At times I feel like they can be distracting and almost like an afterthought in what is an otherwise tightly orchestrated experience. The layers of reverb and multi-tracking often combine in a way that just sounds a bit off key and it tends to spoil the sonic landscape a bit. Regardless of that, however, the album is really quite good and has exceeded my expectations after hearing Boyfrndz’ earlier EP’s and seeing them live a few times recently. Having recently opened for Prog Rock powerhouse Coheed & Cambria at a show in Pharr, TX last month, Boyfrndz are making a name for themselves in certain circles and with a tour kicking off this weekend, they aim to spread the sounds of All Day Pass across the country this fall. I’ll be the first person to admit that this style of music isn’t for everyone, but if you like a challenge, give Boyfrndz a chance. You just might thank me.