Boy Azooga - 1, 2, Kung Fu
It might feel like Boy Azooga has burst onto the music scene out of almost nowhere recently, but in reality Davey Newington has been lurking in its shadows all along. As it turns out, until recently Newington has been providing percussion for Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop Dungeon. Uncontent with the backseat, he has now come forward with what was originally planned as a solo project.
1, 2, Kung Fu was recorded almost as a one-man band, to the extent that the only other instrumental input on the entire album comes from his own dad, who plays the violin on ‘Jerry,’ ‘Hangover Square’ and ‘Breakfast Epiphany II’. His father, however, comes highly qualified as a violinist for the BBC Orchestra of Wales, so no loss in quality here. The rest of the Boy Azooga crew were originally recruited in order to perform the songs live. Such an enjoyable experience that has turned out to be that it looks like they might be sticking around long-term.
Citing far-reaching influences that include William Onyeabor, The Beach Boys, Ty Segall and The Beastie Boys among others, the record has a lot to draw from. There are many ways that leaning on musical influences could leave a band coming off as nothing more than a copycat act, a rip-off. That is one thing, however, that Boy Azooga is not.
1, 2, Kung Fu is one of the freshest sounding albums released so far this year. Newington says that the theme of the album is death, with an attempt to brighten it up in the form of "silly" song titles. Digging down into the lyrics gives away some of these darker themes ("Gotta take my time till time takes mine away"), but they’re masked, for the most part, with poppy synth and earworm guitar hooks.
The singles that have been released so far (‘Loner Boogie’, ‘Face Behind Her Cigarette’ and ‘Jerry’) give a sample of the mix-tape variety Newington was hoping to achieve. ‘Loner Boogie’ tells the story of an anxiety-ridden person finding themselves at a party all alone: "Went to a party, stood around and felt the fool" Backed by a thumping drum beat and scuzzy guitars, the chorus chant of "I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna go outside… stay in and hide" is not only relatable but ironically danceable.
In direct contrast, ‘Jerry’ is slower, where the sadness of the lyrics can be felt above the musical backing. Even the synths sound a little downbeat as Newington wonders "Am I ever going to see your face again?".
In reality, the album is full of personal nostalgia. ‘Jerry’ is about Newington’s dog, ‘Walking Thompsons Park’ is the local park where he used to walk that dog, and he has even stated in interviews that album opener, ‘Breakfast Epiphany’, reminds him of his childhood neighbourhood.
1, 2, Kung Fu has a lot going on, and that’s exactly what Davey Newington intended with his mixtape style debut. Yet it doesn’t come off feeling like some randomly selected compilation of tracks. There’s very little in the way of filler, (an interlude track in the middle, but is that really a bad thing?) every song has truly earned its place and the album’s a fantastic listen from start to finish.