Listening to Mutual Friends, the debut album from Swiss-German duo BOY, is like listening to a 40-minute long TV advert for an Apple product. Apple have featured some great music in their adverts, including ‘Bruises’ by Chairlift, ‘New Soul’ by Yael Naim, and ‘1,2,3,4’ by Feist. All of these songs are pleasant, inoffensive mid-tempo tracks. Mutual Friends is a pleasant, inoffensive mid-tempo album.
BOY are two girls: Valeska Steiner and Sonja Glass, who met each other in 2005 when they were studying pop music in Hamburg. Vocally, the girls resemble Feist, and they pack a lyrical punch that’s reminiscent of Kate Nash and Ingrid Michaelson. Because they’re a duo, however, BOY have more depth to their vocal harmonies, and their instrumentation is more layered.
The album begins, sensibly enough, with a track called ‘This is the Beginning’, which sees the girsl singing about the early days of a relationship. The next two songs, ‘Waitress’ and ‘Army’ are a bit slower, but give the listener pause to realise the quality of both BOY’s lyrics and musicianship.
‘Little Numbers’ is one of the album’s catchiest tracks, and displays BOY’s penchant for rhymes that tickle the intellect of the audience: “Seven little numbers baby they could be a start/Seven little numbers baby I know yours by heart”, they chant. The next three songs ‘Drive Darling’, ‘Waltz for Pony’ and ‘Boris’, are relatively uninteresting, and seem to serve merely as filler songs until we reach ‘Oh Boy’, the album’s standout.
‘Oh Boy’ is filled to the brim with pop melodies and sassy retorts to an anonymous fellow obsessed with a damsel that he’s unlikely ever to court: “She turns every room into a dance floor/She turns and she sways and she spins/And you’re standing still like a statue/And you can’t take your eyes off her skin”. The girls add scornfully: “Oh boy you’ll never wear that crown/You’re just one of 100 clowns”. This is a pop song so good that it’s a tough one to top, although Steiner and Glass attempt to do so with the album’s final song ‘July’ – a gritty, slower track, which reminds us that BOY is more than two cute girls who write cute lyrics; their music doesn’t just sound interesting: it is interesting.
Mutual Friends is an enjoyable, updated take on the female singer-songwriter indie pop that emerged in the late ’00s. Considering the recent trend of female pop artists saying something profound – either implicitly or explicitly – about the identity of the pop star, (I’m looking at you Electra Heart), one might expect there to be a catch to BOY’s chants of “la la la.” But no: these girls really do seem to be simply having that great a time.