BNO thrive in the sparkling world of their emotive group record.
boysnightsout have been building for some time now. Despite runaway successes from various group members, like Sg Lily’s stellar album “Content” and Loveboy’s viral “picw/me”, the collective keep a balanced energy. They don’t feed off of controversy, and they decisively do not hop between trends; the niche of glitzy post-drain pop-trap is one they do very well, and they wisely seek to continue this control with each new release. BNO have one prerogative – make charged, emotive, and soulful music, and their new collective record “It’s Complicated” attempts to showcase how this is best achieved through combined effort. This is a hard thing to sustain over fifteen tracks, though, and whilst “It’s Complicated” is a sweetened and developed listen there are peaks and valleys across the tape’s forty-five minute runtime.
Album opener “Amazon” finds success early. Vocalist Swoopy’s thickly accented refrain “I’m in the Amazon while you’re on Amazon” brings mystique before Loveboy’s perfectly jaded voice enters. The tail-ends of his lines crumble into pieces before another note picks up, which excellently matches a slow-burning yet hopeful beat from Opal and With3r. Loveboy, true to his name, croons “Yeah I love you so much baby it’s tragic”, which would collapse under its own drama were it not for Swoopy establishing the album’s world as a dreamlike state. It’s a strong collaboration, one that shines even without typical BNO bombast. Other early offerings have different strengths – Bizarius adds some flair to typically chiptuned melodies with the classic Three 6 Mafia “yeah hoe” sample on “Crazytown”. d1v is flippant and intoxicated on “Shitfaced”, with punchy production from Opal and Sg Lily (as Sg37). “Wolfs” suffers from shyness, but “Special” – though similarly muted – is both more colourful and despondent; Lil Dovas is particularly pain-stricken on falsetto quips like “Be careful what you ask for, Stockholm city turns to Mordor”.
What’s surprising about “It’s Complicated” is just how extensive every track is. There’s a temptation with group records to fill quotas, have so many appearances from each member, crank out a certain number of songs, and so on. “It’s Complicated”, however, makes no such haste; every track is at least two minutes, and there’s room in abundance for each artist to really perform. The payoff is indulgence; Buffalobang is playful on the title track, pouring his soul into a digitised hook. The fiery evil in Uknoxoxo’s hook for “Pradagloves” is born from desperation, he’s permitted to search for this unique sadness by the project’s explorative ethos. “I be in the BnB, with the whole fucking gang, Prada gloves stay on me, slap you in the fucking face” is less malice and more reckless bravado, a complex hypnosis that nobody is immune to.
It’s in its later moments that this BNO album finds brilliance. After the pleasant stasis of “Cashflow” along comes “On My Own”, an essential cut which exhibits total harmony. Lil Dovas produces the song with Eera, and appears on the mic with K_bry and d1v. Not one person lacks. It’s one of the record’s genuinely impactful songs, and feels very separate from the carefree arena “It’s Complicated” takes place within. “Home” is similarly heavy, exchanging bright guitars for massive walls of reverb and crushing bass. The later half of this record periodically escapes the concept of effort, it’s a testament to BNO’s skill that these more grounded displays feel so natural.
Past another pair of less charged tunes are the imposing finale songs. On the closer, “Euphoria”, Buffalobang sings through spiritual instrumentation into a heavenly key change; “I remember how it felt so great, like it was faith, I felt euphoric for the first time that day”. Though the sprawl of “It’s Complicated” can be disorienting, and not every song connects like the best do, it’s hard to deny the pure emotion these artists convey. BNO play to their strengths. They’re at their best when the soul in their music takes over – this is definitely the case for “Euphoria”, and as the listener is carried upwards into a shimmering snowstorm, all else falls away.
Listen to “It’s Complicated” here.
– Jamie (@youngjade1216)