When you pump carefree, passionate, modern punk sensibilities through LSDJ, you get ‘Young’ by Boy Without Batteries. This pop-punk chiptune album released by Play It Loud is boisterous, exuberant, and will hook you immediately with send-off tracks that ooze feel-good dance beats like ‘Sophomore Year’:
Jump into the full review below as we go deeper into ‘Young’ by Boy Without Batteries…
‘Young’ succeeds in expressing a core “Neverland” theme of the adolescent joy of facing the world with your friends, experiencing the world together for the first time with the fearlessness that comes with the invincibility of youth. Boy Without Batteries skillfully avoids the trap of potentially sharing a musical meandering of unfinished melodies mistaken for fully realized thoughts, and the presented focus of intention throughout ‘Young’ is a welcome cream rising to the top of this year’s chiptune crop.
Being young, to me, is about learning how to embrace being rough around the edges. You are told who you are by so many outside influences that by the time you realize you don’t have to be any of those things, you have an entire persona to shed before you can embrace who you truly are. That span of teenage life where everyone around you accuses you of changing, of being someone else, of being different than who they thought you were, that’s you breaking out of your cocoon of forced ideas and other people’s insistence on who you’re supposed to be. It takes a long time to learn, but if I can jump-start the process for anyone reading this review, the best piece of advice I can offer for those hard times is this:
When you’re little, family and friends will build up the idea of who you are and who you’re meant to be before you’re even able to speak in an effort to inoculate both you and themselves from the fear of the unknown. With the unknown comes the possibility of failure, of hardship, of disappointment, and loss. When you grow up and gain the ability to self-reflect and challenge those pre-determined impositions on who you’re “supposed” to be, you are willfully stepping into that unknown. For you, you are discovering who you could be, but even more importantly, who you’re not. For everyone else, you are shaking their ideas for what they believe will keep you safe (but is actually what they believe will give THEM peace of mind). This creates a natural backlash as you step out of the box you have been placed in “for your protection”, and choose to explore who you are on your own terms.
It’s okay to question who you are. It’s okay to challenge who you are. It’s okay to change who you are. It’s okay to explore who you are. It’s okay to realize that who you want to be IS who you are. It’s okay to be you.
‘Soul Skaters’ – Boy Without Batteries
‘Soul Skaters’ kicks off ‘Young’ with an energetic loop of familiar chip melodies, building over a grungy beat that serves to distort the melody away from its cookie-cutter mould. The two compete for your attention until a crystal-clear refrain silences the scratchy undertones for a breath of fresh air, then welcoming them back to work together in a give-and-take that creates a musical equivalent to “respecting the old, but embracing the new”. Given the theme of the album, ‘Soul Skaters’ outperforms as an album opener.
‘And The Winner Is…’ – Boy Without Batteries
‘And The Winner Is…’ rocks a swollen, guttural, frog-like croak under its opening build, like a rising epiphany pushing through the monotony of a droning conversation. As the melody makes its standard rounds over a simple drum smack, the monotony continues to be challenged by fringe explosions, voice clips, and scratchy bass tones, all designed to challenge a status quo; on the surface is a flavour of the week chiptune track, but below the surface is a persistent force of atypical non-conformity refusing to be ignored.
Pop Heart – Boy Without Batteries
‘Pop Heart’, co-written by Justin Franco, notably employs a second Gameboy for a unique doubling that does not appear elsewhere on the album. There is a slight trance-like quality to ‘Pop Heart’, and far more of a melding between rhythm and melody than there has been in the first half of the album. Boy Without Batteries pulls moments together from several clip sources to create the foundation for ‘Pop Heart’, taking pieces and finding harmony within them. The feeling of embracing the moment for what it is, for making the best out of the current situation, is clear here. Thematically, the mashup of the best from the old and the new creating a standout track with a little help from a friend is too poignant to ignore.
‘Young’ has a thematic depth that is uncommon in the chiptune space. Pop-punk dance beats on the outside, explosive depth on the inside, ‘Young’ by Boy Without Batteries comes highly recommended and is available now on Bandcamp for $7USD(or more). You can also pre-order either a cassette version of the album (with an included digital download from Bandcamp) or a T-Shirt (credit: Kool Skull for the awesome design!) with the album cover art with an estimated shipping date of Jan. 12th, 2016.
Happy holidays everyone. Hug someone who has embraced you for who you are, and we’ll see you in the new year.
PixelRecall (R. Morgan Slade) ~ Support the artists you love ~