(Album Review) B Boys – ‘DADA’

Listening to a band that is so reminiscent of other bands that it makes you want to stop and listen to other bands isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Brooklyn’s B Boys don’t exactly break new ground with their first LP Dada. They don’t really build upon the foundation of their influences (Buzzcocks, Sham 69, pre-Sister Sonic Youth, and especially, especially Television) either. But they are a welcome addition to the prefabricated and repurposed art-punk/ post-punk offerings of their contemporaries (Parquet Courts, Protomartyr, Eagulls and the like). All of these bands are steeped in a tradition as rich and identifiable (that is, distinguished) as bluegrass or jazz or even plain ole’ bass + electric guitar + drums rock and roll. B Boys represent old school punk rock, and they represent it well.

The first track, “B Boys Anthem,” sets the tone with the first of many head-nodding grooves on the album. It’s a short, up-tempo, down strum crunch of a welcome to a record that never really deviates from its opener in attitude and style. Second track “Another Thing” is straight up Buzzcocks pop punk, and third track “Discipline” brings the dance groove back and settles itself into something like background music playing at the bar you finish the night at. Fourth track “Psycho” introduces us to B Boys’ Angry Samoans meets T.S.O.L. side. By the second half of the record, kicked off by the jam-within-punk-parameters instrumental “Distance,” B Boys seem to lose their momentum, at least musically. The guitar becomes plucky and unfocused, and what was more than likely intended for soundscape expansion turns into songs that sound incomplete compared to the earlier compositions.

What may differentiate B Boys from other bands is their lyrics. The lyrics are at times cathartic and insightful (“What’s the reason to exist? To change your state of mind,” from “Discipline”). Along with high-minded observations (“A feeble minded people, a gang of philistines—They take control of culture, devoid of empathy” from “Psycho”) that are dangerously close to pretension but never cross the line because of the sincerity behind the vocal delivery. Lyrics are spoken (often), sang (sometimes), and shouted (mostly) fervently. The album feels honest overall, and there is nothing more punk than that.

Stand out track: “Another Thing”– Loud, fast, kinda makes me wanna skank or welcome an elbow to the eye trying.