To My Boy - Messages
Everyone knows one of those boring old farts who, Jeremy Clarkson style, vehemently diss modern music and claim the youth of today don't know how to do it like the musicians of their youth. Well, To My Boy may have had the misfortune to know many of these grumblers, motivating them to create a noise that may not win over those stuck in the past but certainly can't be written off as lazy or uninspired. The eccentric vision of these two Liverpudlian youths blends art and science, filters it through 'the beautiful machine' they are so indebted to and enamoured by, and comes out as fully-realised futurepop for the here and now. Clarkson might not opt to listen to this in his car but I'm sure many a neon-clad youth will be pulling his/her best moves to the best of Messages on a dancefloor near you very soon.
What's so great, you're wondering? Well, forget the cool-as packaging and the fact that one of them looks like Simon Amstell. Listening to this for the first time will make you dizzy, as you go from one synths-on-speed electro number to another. The jittery I Am X-Ray remains as delightfully zippy as it was upon first listen, while the James Ford-produced Model and The Grid maintain the high calibre of his other collaborations. There's a retro element, taking in everything from Gary Numan to Devo, but this is counterpointed by the production and lyrical concerns. Sick of listening to identikit indie bands singing about lost love? To My Boy's lyrics are odes to modern-day technology and the Internet more so than the girl that got away, although humanity still leaks through on tracks like Talk, where the place of physical interaction is questioned in a world where we have broadband connections and MySpace.
The only criticism I can muster is that it's all a bit samey, Fear of Fragility being the only drastic change in pace and tone. However, these boys have a clear vision that weirdly, given their reliance on computers, feels utterly organic and makes for a superb debut album that is full of promise for the future they already seem to be occupying. Oh, and beware; just when you think it's all over, your senses will be battered by the demented secret track Game Over. The song's title is apt for an album that could act as soundtrack to the sickest and wooziest video game of all: life.