Audio Mixer: Steven Ward.
Recording information: Golden Beat, Glassell Park, Los Angeles (04/28/2015-05/02/2015).
As a member of such vaunted bands as the Royal We, Sexy Kids, Correcto, and, most impressively, Veronica Falls, Patrick Doyle played a vital part in the making of quite a few classic indie pop songs and at least one brilliant album, Veronica Falls' debut. Boys Forever is his first solo venture and he stakes out his own territory with a sure-handed calmness on this self-titled debut. He's not doing anything very tricky here, just simple indie pop with a little bit of noise around the edges that will be familiar to anyone who's heard Teenage Fanclub or the Vaselines. Doyle surrounds his sweetly plaintive vocals with grimily jangling guitars, sparse piano and keyboard lines, straightforward drums and cymbal splashes. It's a sound that never comes close to the drama of Veronica Falls, but aims for something more reassuringly pleasant and hits the mark dead-on. Happy tunes like "Voice in My Head" and "Brian" ramble along nicely like songs Norman Blake might have been carrying in his back pocket, while the few that get a little dark, like "Things" and "I'll Remember You," do so in a mellow fashion that won't spoil the peaceful, pastoral mood set elsewhere. A couple songs, like the album-opening "Poisonous" and the steady-rocking "Underground," have sharp enough hooks to lodge themselves firmly in the memory, and while a few more like that would have been a plus, the lack of them isn't a deal breaker either since the record flows so smoothly. Boys Forever is an unassuming debut, but that doesn't mean it should be ignored. Doyle shows great promise as both a singer and songwriter. While his musical ideas could easily be expanded into something a little bigger and flashier, they could stay small like this and be perfectly fine. Not every album has to bash listeners over the head with wild ideas and massive sounds; sometimes it's enough to provide a warm hug or a tender word, and Boys Forever does a fine job providing both. ~ Tim Sendra