I AM JUST A BOY LEAVE ME ALONE !!!
Grand Jury · March 19, 2021
The group is something of a baby, founded only in 2018. Guitarist and vocalist Miguel Plante met bassist Alex Keyes after highschool, when Plante posted a Hippocampus song to his Instagram story, and Keyes responded to share in the appreciation. The two began making music together (Keyes was learning bass as they went), and released four introductory singles, one of which was a cover of their favorite song of all time – Talking Heads’ classic “This Must Be the Place.” Somewhere along the line, they picked up Keith McDonald on drums, an interesting addition considering the band almost exclusively uses programmed drums on their recordings. Nonetheless, the trio has now racked up over 300,000 monthly Spotify listeners as well as a feature on the cover of Spotify’s “undercurrents” playlist – not bad at all for a band who didn’t take themselves seriously three years ago.
IAJABLMA !!! opens with the casual, shimmery “out 4 a breather.” The track explores a key theme of the project: the rush of young romance. There’s a euphoric naivety in Plante’s questions (“Do you know my name? I think you’re kinda cool / Do you wanna hang? Maybe after school”) that takes the listener back to a time when they might have been asking the same questions of some high school crush. All this sits over an easygoing bed of synth pads and the group’s signature drum machine groove.
Another high point on the track list is “nrvs again,” a head-bobbing, fast-paced rollercoaster of self-doubt. From the minimalist instrumentation in the verses to the bass and vocal trade-offs in the chorus, this song propels the listener through an inner monologue of self-critique, which transforms into self-motivation in the bridge. The repetition of “Play it cool, now / Don’t be fooled, now” boils over into a final chorus which seems to allow Plante to accept (or at the very least shrug off) his nervousness.
Similar themes of love and introspection appear on the rest of the collection as well. “gf haircut” is a feel-good rocker about the playful intimacy of cutting a loved one’s hair, with a lyrical charm reminiscent of local Boston band The Water Cycle. Though energetic, the lack of dynamic contrast on “MANY FACES” makes it a low point on the EP. The final track, “name & place,” utilizes watery synth glitches, propellant tambourine, and softly triumphant synth melodies to piece together one of the project’s most meaningful tracks. The poignant lyric “Will I still be around for you / in a year or two?” tells the listener all they need to know.
This EP is a telling representation of the band’s newcomer status, for better or for worse. As a whole, the tracks are catchy and cohesive, but they border on redundant. The lyrical content is easygoing, but at times uninspired. The group’s arsenal of youthful energy is in no way wasted, but could perhaps be honed to deliver more insightful, surprising material next time around. I AM JUST A BOY LEAVE ME ALONE !!! doesn’t necessarily challenge the audience, but delivers a refreshing, unassuming simplicity that makes for effortlessly pleasant listening.
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