Music

Boy Kill Boy: Civilian

Have you had enough of '80s new wave yet? No? Well, then, Boy Kill Boy may have just the catchy hooks to tide you over until the new Killers album drops.


Boy Kill Boy

Civilian

Label: Island
US Release Date: 2006-07-25
UK Release Date: 2006-05-22
Amazon
iTunes

I'm sorry but yes, I'm self-diagnosed: beginning to suffer from '80s revival burnout. You may have noticed but the Cure, Duran Duran, Gang of Four have magically transformed into Franz Ferdinand, the Killers, Editors, the Bravery, etc, etc, etc, etc. Have you had enough yet? No? Well, then, Boy Kill Boy may have just the catchy hooks to tide you over until the new Killers album drops.

Wow, that sounded caustic. The truth is, Civilian ain't that bad. It's a confident and stylish debut by a band that is cautiously pushing towards the more orchestral, stadium rock end of the new wave pack. But from a dancefloor perspective, Boy Kill Boy's synthpop isn't hard-edged enough to be in vogue any more; and from a soaring rock perspective they're far from Muse's heavy-handed histrionics. And I know it's far from fashionable to say anything positive about the Killers these days, but at least they're showing some signs of changing focus with "When You Were Young", and let's face it, their debut had a bunch of really catchy tunes.

Boy Kill Boy's producer John Cornfield's worked with Muse, actually, and the influence comes through not so much in the sound as in the harmonic and orchestral arrangements of the songwriting. It's there from the first song -- "Back Again", which comes across as a combination of Franz Ferdinand's droll vocals and Muse's over-the-top idolization of the hook, all wrapped up into a catchy radio single.

It's Boy Kill Boy's catchiness that is ultimately disappointing. To explain: the band chases hooks wildly, without a thought of development or innovation. This music is all shiny surface, appealing on the surface, but with no heart. It almost comes across a marketing project, an experiment in how can to sell more records. From this perspective, "On and On" is one of the only comment-worthy cuts on the whole album because it takes a chance, on the chorus, with an unexpected chord change. Even after repeat listens, the shift sounds out of place, but this ultimately works to the song's advantage: elsewhere on the album, things become a little predictable.

It's no surprise the singles or soon-to-be released as singles cuts are the finest examples of Boy Kill Boy's orchestral new wave appeal. "Suzie" is perhaps the most Franz Ferdinand-like of the songs, but it turns out a pretty and unexpected chorus "countdown to the disappointment" that is Interpol-smooth and easy to sing along to. "Civil Sin", more dance-punk, has the same punk chorus as Good Mourning vintage Alkaline Trio.

About the time we get to the fourth track, "Six Minutes", though, it falls into focus that this is a band that writes by formula -- rising chorus, a few yelps over the top for added effect: as the album progresses, repetition mounts, and appeal fades fast. Civilian's not too subtle, nor is subtlety its concern; but more than halfway through 2006 we need something extra to really hold our attention to this tiring revival.

4
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Film

Nazis, Nostalgia, and Critique in Taika Waititi's 'Jojo Rabbit'

Arriving amidst the exhaustion of the past (21st century cultural stagnation), Waititi locates a new potential object for the nostalgic gaze with Jojo Rabbit: unpleasant and traumatic events themselves.

Television

Why I Did Not Watch 'Hamilton' on Disney+

Just as Disney's Frozen appeared to deliver a message of 21st century girl power, Hamilton hypnotizes audiences with its rhyming hymn to American exceptionalism.

Music

LA Popsters Paper Jackets Deliver a Message We Should Embrace (premiere + interview)

Two days before releasing their second album, LA-based pop-rock sextet Paper Jackets present a seemingly prescient music video that finds a way to ease your pain during these hard times.

Books

'Dancing After TEN' Graphic Memoir Will Move You

Art dances with loss in the moving double-memoir by comics artists Vivian Chong and Georgia Webber, Dancing After TEN.

Music

Punk Rock's WiiRMZ Rage at the Dying of the Light on 'Faster Cheaper'

The eight songs on WiiRMZ's Faster Cheaper are like a good sock to the jaw, bone-rattling, and disorienting in their potency.

Music

Chris Stamey Paints in "A Brand-New Shade of Blue" (premiere + interview)

Chris Stamey adds more new songs for the 20th century with his latest album, finished while he was in quarantine. The material comes from an especially prolific 2019. "It's like flying a kite and also being the kite. It's a euphoric time," he says.

Music

Willie Nelson Surveys His World on 'First Rose of Spring'

Country legend Willie Nelson employs his experience on a strong set of songs to take a wide look around him.

Music

Gábor Lázár Is in Something of a Holding Pattern on 'Source'

Experimental electronic artist Gábor Lázár spins his wheels with a new album that's intermittently exciting but often lacking in variety.

Music

Margo Price Is Rumored to Be the New Stevie Nicks

Margo Price was marketed as country rock because of her rural roots. But she was always more rock than country, as one can hear on That's How Rumors Get Started.

Music

DMA'S Discuss Their Dancier New Album 'The Glow'

DMA'S lead-singer, Tommy O'Dell, discusses the band's new album The Glow, and talks about the dancier direction in their latest music.

Music

The Bacon Brothers Deliver Solemn Statement With "Corona Tune" (premiere + interview)

Written and recorded during the 2020 quarantine, "Corona Tune" exemplifies the Bacon Brothers' ability to speak to the gravity of the present moment.

Music

Garage Rockers the Bobby Lees Pay Tribute to "Wendy" (premiere)

The Bobby Lees' "Wendy" is a simmering slice of riot 'n' roll that could have come from the garage or the gutter but brims with punk attitude.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.