Mutual Friends

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The debut album from Hamburg, Germany-based singer/songwriter duo BOY, 2011's Mutual Friends, is a melodic, often introspective album grounded in the group's poignant, emotionally resonant, female-centric point of view. Centered around the talents of Valeska Steiner and Sonja Glass, BOY are ostensibly a folk-pop duo, but with backing from a handful of keyboardists, guitarists, and drummers -- including, on a few tracks, Phoenix's Thomas Hedlund -- they find a nice balance between the lightly experimental, catchy pop of Feist and the more twee-confessional style of Regina Spektor. What helps BOY rise above their similarly inclined female contemporaries is their knack for memorable pop songcraft that moves from the intimate, minor-key sound of cuts like "Railway" to more breezy, radio-ready tracks such as the cheekily titled '70s pop of "Oh Boy." With shimmering melodic lines and a pleasant, natural production approach, many of the songs on Mutual Friends find an immediate home in your ears that's as cozy as it is bittersweet. Part of this is due to Steiner and Glass' gift for writing lyrics that seem to capture what life is like for many women in their twenties. There is a recurring theme of newly discovered female freedom and sexual identity on the album that finds BOY thinking about such universally relatable "firsts" as getting an apartment ("This Is the Beginning"), working a day job ("Waitress"), falling in love ("Little Numbers"), and leaving home ("Drive Darling"). In the last example, Steiner sings "The trunk is filled with records and books and chairs and clothes/I'm smiling on the surface/I'm scared as hell below," and, later, "Good morning freedom, good night lullabies." Whether saying goodbye to a lover, or a parent, or perhaps even falling in love with each other, this BOY is forever on the cusp of becoming a woman.

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