Brooklyn’s B Boys bring a healthy dose of thoughtful, high energy rock to their sophomore full-length, Dudu. For the uninitiated, the trio, consisting of guitarist/lead vocalist Britton Walker, bassist Brendon Avalos, and drummer Andrew Kerr, have a sound that is predominantly reminiscent of Parquet Courts with the occasional detour into fast-and-furious punk/post-punk similar to Pink Flag-era Wire while also taking advantage of a dual, back-and-forth, barking vocal attack most prominently identified with bands like Fugazi.
Without much additional instrumentation or glaringly obvious studio gimmickry, B Boys manage to do a lot with very little. Most songs on Dudu are kept to under three minutes and, although B Boys waste no time getting their point across before moving quickly on to the next tense moment, the stylistic diversity from track-to-track is a real credit to the band. When one considers the lack of differentiation of tone or effect regarding Walker’s guitar or Avalos’ bass, the holistic results here are doubly impressive.
Dudu opens with the two-chord “Cognitive Dissonance” that puts all ears on Avalos’ bass which manages to dance nimbly around Walker’s simple guitar work before the track accelerates into oblivion. The herky-jerky new wave strut on “Closer” finds Walker and Avalos trading off repeated vocals during the song’s chorus. “It’s not so easy, and it gets worse, don’t pull me closer, closer to you,” the two men sing before Britton works his guitar into an appropriately itchy, panicky-sounding solo.
“Instant Pace” appears just before the album’s halfway point and, at over four minutes, is the first song to break through Dudu’s three-minute wall. Andrew Kerr’s drumming here mimics a style consistent throughout the song that’s not unlike something the Minutemen’s George Hurley would pull out, and it manages to work well under the ever-changing guitar and bass dynamics. With its warm, ringing chords and pulsing bassline, “On Repeat” may be the most straightforward song of the lot and the likeliest to be culled as a single. Here the trio lets loose, simultaneously shouting a simple but poignant chorus of, “Implicit systems, habitual forms!”
Along with being Dudu’s most lackluster moment, “AsleepAwake” manages to also be the record’s black sheep. Over a slow, atonal lead guitar line and intentionally dragging drums, Walker and Avalos trade uninspired lyrics that are too dull to even bother mentioning. Fortunately, Dudu’s finale is saved by the taut, ephemeral “Taste for Trash” and the album’s title track, a quirky, forty-eight second jaunt that feels simultaneously goofy and fitting. “AsleepAwake” aside, Dudu is a strong collection that manages to stay interesting by being stylistically diverse from song-to-song without ever completely abandoning B Boys’ core aesthetic.