The London-based duo are releasing their debut album, ‘Love Remains’, via Groenland Records. The eleven songs that make up the album have formed gradually years of collaborating since they first met on a night out while wandering through Glastonbury in 2011. After moving to London together to pursue music seriously, Strange Boy’s sound has matured alongside Brunt and Huxley’s notable collaborations with the likes of Terry Riley, Nils Frahm, Clark, Squid, Aurora and artist Jeremy Deller.
Combining a bold narrative thrust with grandiose symbolism, Strange Boy have created a suite of impressionistic songs that exist in atmospheric soundworlds. The first single, ‘Boston Blue Period’, sets out the stall as a lush-but-unsettling piece, building over an extended intro then falling away to reveal a tender tale about letting go.
Following single ‘Sofia’ opens with a bouncing solo synth; the propulsive pattern ebbs and flows through the song, swelling with the outline of Brunt's beautiful, bittersweet address to the titular ‘Sofia’, who he explains “was the first child to come into my life as a grown-up. She brought with her such a fun and fresh energy at a time when I was grappling with early adulthood and despairing at what was happening in the world around me.”
‘Follow The News’ is the lead single from the album and draws upon Brunt’s personal experiences with ‘medication and self-medication’. Serious themes of mental illness are brought to the fore across the record, and treated with a mixture of irony, humour and catharsis.
Elsewhere on the album, the band lean further into this intimate, reflective mode of storytelling than ever before. ‘November Skies’ combines lo-fi vocal production with the lush strings and guest vocal of Nico Muhly and Anna B. Savage respectively, while Side A closer Whipping Boy’s softly crooned vocals and up-close piano recall the early works of James Blake and Anohni and the Johnsons. Brunt signposts his love for The Magnetic Fields with a cover of cult classic ‘100,000 Fireflies’, recorded in one take over layers of found tape played backwards at half-speed.
The album closes with the eponymous ‘Love Remains’, a song written early in the band’s formative years and honed gradually over their time together in live performances. The song swells in intensity as Brunt’s choral-inspired vocal soars over Huxley’s organ drones, industrial layers and experimental string textures, meditating on life and death in a swooping narrative of deep self-introspection.
The writing and recording of the album was as dramatic as it’s subject matter: while developing material Brunt was forced to leave his studio space at very short notice and ended up moving into the crypt of a Victorian church in London. The space - beautiful , spooky and very atmospheric - had a grand impact on the sonic imprint of the music, which was completed in Yorkshire alongside producer and mixer Richard Formby.
Working with rising star Jack Warne on the artwork, the band decided to make church objects and surroundings integral to the imagery of the album.
Ultimately, as the amorphous presence of Strange Boy, Brunt and Huxley have built a sonic world that inspires communion – with ourselves and with something more ethereal. Their debut album is a visceral storytelling experience not to be missed.
Boston Blue Period
Follow The News
Drunk In Iceland
(I Count The Fleeing