I happen to be an extremely seasonal music listener. In the summer, I find myself gravitating towards up-beat, largely cheerful bands that put a smile on my face to accompany the sunshine. As the leaves start to turn and the weather gets colder, my ears start calling for something darker, a little more tense. That is why the timing on the release of the Montreal pop-punk trio known as BOY FRIENDS’ (formerly The This Many Boyfriends Club) second album, Fragilism, is hitting just the right spot. This record is scratching my fall punk itch in every way that I could hope, and it is without a doubt the band’s best release yet.
When I turn to punk, which is albeit not that often, I am usually looking for short songs that get right into the meat of the music and a tone that will call on my most raw emotions. Fragilism draws on that primal intensity with exceptional precision and coordination between the three members of BOY FRIENDS. From the thundering outset, Fragilism is a head-banging display of tight musicianship. Fast chording and eclectic lead guitar lines are accented with expertise from drumming that seems to pull the listener in every direction. Shifting between steady, fast pulses to uneven rhythmic figures that make the music trip without falling, the deft hands of Evan Magoni give more than enough to listen to all on their own. Andrew Miller’s mobile and melodic bass work provides a deep anchor and fills out their tone, a critical foundation for the quick and calculated exploration found throughout the album. Floating on top of this complex instrumental arrangement is the angst-laden but irresistibly poppy vocal melodies of Casimir Kaplan. The combination of these three musicians has resulted in an album may be short, but never has an even remotely dull moment.
At just shy of 25 minutes, it is astounding just how much BOY FRIENDS are able to pack into Fragilism. Following in the tradition of Guided by Voices, the album features ten short tracks that never waste a second. Each track flows right into the next, giving the album a nearly relentless intensity dotted with brief moments of respite. It’s an album that grabs hold from the first notes and refuses to release you until it has nothing more to say. These guys are playing with purpose, with conviction, and with a degree of musical communication that is plainly evident in every chord change and off-beat. Perhaps most importantly, Fragilism hits on a heavy emotional level that not only allows the listener think conceptually about the music, but simply speaks to your ingrained, perhaps frustrated, sensibilities. Tapping into the tension created by BOY FRIENDS is like an exercise in catharsis. It’s this combination that makes Fragilism such a special record, and it is why BOY FRIENDS are a band that should be heard by all.
I can’t wait to hear what comes from this trio in the future, and I hope to find myself at another one of their shows before too long. I highly recommend that you do the same. You can grab Fragilism on their bandcamp page for a measly $4. To hear some of their earlier work, check out their old bandcamp page. I’m particularly fond of A Pumpkin Like You.