BOA - Forever and Never
Record Label: Jammerdosa
Release Date: September 30th, 2011
Although they may not be quite ready to inflict a formulated assault on the American music industry just yet, there are two female fronted pop bands developing within Sweden that may well win over many adoring hearts, minds and ears alike in the not too distant future. I speak firstly, and albeit briefly, of Niki and the Dove, a group that have recently signed to the immensely talented roster that Sub Pop have been gradually assembling over a number of years. In what is sure to showcase their productivity, the band have already managed to release two flamboyant EP's throughout the course of the year, with the former featuring arguably a candidate for song of the year, the lavish and distinctly hook-laden, "The Fox". The second of these aforementioned Swedish bands is the predominantly unheard and unheralded, BOA; and although they haven't yet the assistance, financial backing and support of an established label behind them, the Göteborg sextet look set to impress with the release of their melodically gorgeous eleven track debut full-length, Forever and Never.
From the moment the shimmering acoustic guitar tones of lead single and album opener, "Push" begin to entwine with accompanying flourishes of keyboard and synth, BOA are able to conjure a delightful musical atmosphere that radiates playfulness, yet is conflictingly woven with melancholy. Midway through the opening verse, lead vocalist Orsi Toro's whimsical vocals float into the mix in an elegant fashion, one moment they're barely more than a vulnerably whispered falsetto and the next they're on the verge of soaring spectacularly with the assistance of multiple vocal overdubs and layering techniques. Those same verses provide a seamless transition into what is arguably the most infectious, catchiest and upbeat chorus you're likely to hear anywhere all year, as Toro belatedly breaks free from any semblance of restraint in order to sing with all the innocence and cuteness she can possibly muster, "We've got time but it's running out, it's time for pleasure".
The four minute duration of "Pool" waltzes into proceedings and proves to be an early album highlight as each and every word written and sung cascades with copious amounts of relatable vulnerability. The opening thirty seconds set the tone for the remainder of the track as Toro's whispered vocals rise and fluctuate strenuously, backed by nothing more than an occasional out of time drumbeat, Toro’s words pierce alarmingly with heartbreak as she sings, "I know it has been years, but nothing could ever make me forget about you / I want to hear you say your love will be mine and you will care for no one else". There's unmistakable desperation and pleading etched into her voice as she delivers the final line, but before listeners are able to fully resonate with everything that's just occurred, the track transforms once again in a wave of beautiful, stunning, heartbreaking harmonies.
Unfortunately, as Forever and Never reaches its middle stages, the highlights and memorable moments become marginally less frequent. "Think of You" is bass guitar driven and features spontaneous hand clapping, but unfortunately for a two and a half minute track there's absolutely no urgency or originality on display. "New Beginning" overcomes a slow and uninteresting beginning to eventually flourish into a electronic dance-oriented gem reminiscent of The Sounds. The band even attempt to saturate "Vagabond" in thick, heavy, needless distortion similar to what you would find in most disco influenced tracks. As a direct result of dull, repetitive rhythms and weak lyrics, "Vagabond" comes across as directionless and poorly contrived.
The record eventually ends on a positive note however with the welcomely upbeat "Like Dust On Your Heart" and the beautiful acoustic ballad "Raincheck". The former sees the band once again use large amounts of distortion to open the track, making the listener believe that the song is moments away from tearing chaotically at its seams before unexpectedly setting the scene for the chorus to sweep in, blossom and culminate in an outpouring of captivating melodies. The latter, "Raincheck", is perhaps the most intriguing track able to be heard on the record for it doesn't feature a redeeming, hook-laden chorus at all. Instead, where a chorus normally would and should be, there are lovely acoustic and electric guitars weaving in and out of the mix and complimenting one another flawlessly, as well as glorious multi-tracked female vocal harmonies rich with warmth helping the track to culminate into an irresistible, multifaceted stunner.
Although many may choose to overlook and avoid Forever and Never due to its pop sensibilities and uncomplicated nature, it thoroughly deserves to go down as one of the most enjoyable debuts to have been released this year. Despite being weak lyrically and lacking cohesiveness and an underlying sense of direction, BOA have created an organic body of work full of melancholic melodies, gorgeous soundscapes and just enough highlights and memorable moments to excite and charm those of who are fortunate enough to stumble across its glossily produced path.
Good you started writing again, man. I mean, good support for a debut band as well.
Guess I'll hear it all, but just once... There are some stuff going on in my life and I don't want to be melancholic all again, haha. Actually, I'm avoiding sad songs in general, but still I can check it out!