Prepare to travel through time with BOYTOY as they rock you to the West Coast in the ‘60s and ‘70s with their new LP, Night Leaf. Though this four-piece hails from Brooklyn, the sound and feeling of this album is very California. BOYTOY’s current line-up includes Saara Untracht-Oakner (vocals and guitar,) Glenn Van Dyke (vocals, guitar,) Chase Noelle (drums,) and Lena Simon (bass.) These four women have crafted a simple, fresh, retro album that will bring you a little sunshine and swagger.
This album packs all the attitude of ‘60s and ‘70s rock but makes it pretty thanks to velvety vocal harmonies. The harmonies from the two vocalists keep everything pretty, but the vocals are distorted just enough to keep it gritty. The arrangements are simple, letting the guitars stand out without much distraction, just sparsely-used electric piano and prescription-grade cowbell (take a dose of “It’s Alright” if you’ve got a fever.) They could be compared to the Breeders or Vivian Girls, only without any extra noise.
The album opens with the sun-drenched “It’s Alright” and the surf-rock influenced “Mary Anne,” placing the album in a coastal California area. “Get Off Your Leash” has an anti-establishment feeling with lyrics that dread the “commute with the normals.” “I Get Distant” has a ‘70s sound and timeless relationship anxieties. “Pretty One” could fit right in among classic rock staples. It’s not all California vibes: “NY Rip Off” has a fittingly more East Coast sound (and NYC subway line references in the lyrics.) It also has a more ‘90s alternative sound which sounds so pleasant coming from BOYTOY with those smooth vocals and simple, clean arrangement.
The album closes with “Cold Love,” which is softer and slower than the rest of the album, with electric piano taking precedence over the guitars. The song builds with rolling drums toward the end. It is at once sad and seductive. Though it is fairly different in tone than the rest of the album (which packs more attitude,) this is such a beautiful song that is an excellent close. Plus, thematically, it fits its closing spot well with lyrics about an impending end.
As bell-bottom jeans comes back in to fashion, BOYTOY makes ‘60s and ‘70s rock fresh and en vogue once again. Night Leaf will be the perfect album to transition us all into summer, and back into those bell-bottoms.