Carla Bozulich

Boy

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AllMusic Review by

Carla Bozulich states in the liner notes that Boy is her "pop" album. She knows the term is subjective. In her definition, the word reflects the multiple locations she wrote and recorded in, the numerous people encountered in her nomadic state of travel, and the various musical genres that can be -- and often are -- used to create pop. Bozulich doesn't "deconstruct" here. She uses vernacular song forms in an organic process of elocution and expression that makes something else of them while never quite emptying them of form or function. Instead, she finds the cracks that open them, and makes them bleed into others, ordered by an instinctive sense of aesthetic transgression that becomes creation. Boy was primarily written, produced, and played by Bozulich and John Eichenseer. Drummer Andrea Belfi aided and abetted, as did Gambletron and Shahzad Ismaily. "Ain't No Grave" uses blues and gospel with Jimi Hendrix as a muse, remaking those forms as they shape-shift through history and point toward the future. "One Hard Man" recalls Patti Smith and PJ Harvey with its quaking sexuality, unbridled, chaotic, and earthshaking in its percussive groove and squalling electronics as Bozulich uses irony, libidinal energy, and rock & roll's fierce heart to speak her need even if defined gender terms are limiting. Appalachian gospel and folk-blues inform "Drowned to the Light," but are used for other purposes. Swelling drums, electric guitars, cello, and rumbling basses extrapolate on these forms. They slowly rise to fever pitch as instruments trade places of dominance in the mix, underscored by a bittersweet lyric and lithe melody. "Deeper Than the Well" uses low-tuned guitars and basses, tom-toms and snares, and taut electronics. It walks the knife's edge between implosion and explosion but is more threatening because it never falls to either side: "...I just want to fuck up their whole world...Yes the hole is deeper than the well.... "Lazy Crossbones" commences with a midtempo drum shuffle, a Wurlitzer, and a jazz guitar vamp. They create a seemingly relaxed backdrop but begin to swell nearly immediately as electronics bust in from the margins. The drama and turbulence roil as Bozulich's vocal rolls with the shifting core and draws out the melody, which in turn reveals the tune's trancelike groove. Her protagonist is the seducer and seduced, lover and beloved. Heightened emotions and senses acknowledge the physical world but don't quite enter it, because in the state of bliss, everything else is porous. On Boy, Bozulich has pulled the word "pop" back from the abyss of meaninglessness. Her most accessible record in some time, though her use of recognizable genre, melody, rhythm, and harmony, shatters conventional notions. It is searing, raw and lusty, tender, open and vulnerable. Boy is the sound of the Other -- as Bozulich hears her/him/them -- blurring defined boundaries of gender, genre, and speech, coming into being, sensually, psychically, emotionally and physically.

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