Album review: ‘White Boyfriend,’ White Boyfriend

Jared Hemming

                                                            (Via B.O.Y.F.)

 

After announcing their name change to B.O.Y.F. last week, it’s clear that the acronym (Before Others, Yourself Forever!) better reflects the self-empowering positivity apparent throughout the self-titled debut of the artists formerly known as White Boyfriend.

 

“White Boyfriend” opens with the infectious “I’m Breaking Up with Mr. Smiles,” a throwback to Bee Gees-era disco that evolves from synth player/singer Nicky Leingang’s soulful croon into a groovy pop jam buoyed by drummer Katherine Seggerman and bassist Dan Hansen’s lush harmonies.

 

With “Mr. Smiles,” B.O.Y.F. brings its self-love message to the forefront of the band’s lyrical output. As Leingang cries, “I’m breaking up with him/ he doesn’t treat me right,” B.O.Y.F. declares Hansen and Leingang’s outspoken sexual identities; B.O.Y.F. is a queer band, and the trio doesn't shy from using the gender pronouns of their desire.

 

While “White Boyfriend” showcases the array of B.O.Y.F.’s attitude — the silly ESPN sendup “Sports!” makes light of meathead competition without coming off as heavy-handed — the album’s moodier tunes transcend the trio's glitzy vibe. Tracks like “Asters” and “Love Like Hubble” turn down B.O.Y.F.’s blinding sequins without losing the band’s shine.

 

Though love triangle's voices and sensibilities blend seamlessly throughout “White Boyfriend,” Seggerman stands out as the superstar songwriter, taking lead on three songs, including “The First.” On the fragile, banjo-laden track, Seggerman addresses the lost companionship of a former friend or lover, the first to, as Seggerman coos, be “overly nice/ treating me better than a stranger.”

 

As the song crescendos from Hansen’s underlying harmony, Seggerman reflects, “When I was little I said ‘I want the power…’/now that I’m older I wish I could get rid of it.” Though Seggerman never addresses exactly what the power is, my interview with her late last year suggests that the song reconciles her disgust with objectification and its clash against the human desire to feel attractive. “I want to be liked, but I don’t want to be liked for… being objectified,” Seggerman said in November.

 

Seggerman turns the objectification table around on “Poison Rings,” the album’s swan song in which she fantasizes about fattening up a lover only to poison them, all while wearing a new, Stepford-wives-ian apron.

 

“White Boyfriend” tackles heavy themes of gender, sexuality and drug use, but the album’s interstitials keep B.O.Y.F.’s glam confidence shimmering. Though the 30-second “Drunk Dials” feels like a lark written on the spot, the song's schoolyard bounce will keep the melody in your head all day, wondering if, as B.O.Y.F. does, those drunk dials you made were "all the wrong number.”

 

While B.O.Y.F. enters a new phase with their name change, the album summarizes the band members' “you wish” self-empowerment attitude. A listen to “White Boyfriend” will help you remember that before others, you should put yourself first. Forever.