The Portuguese, Oregon-based producer returns with his third studio album
Alex Rigotti
13:45 7th May 2020

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It’s not often that a DJ counts Rivers Cuomo, Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke or Tegan and Sara amongst their collaborators – but if you asked Andre Allen Anjos, he’d have the fortune of affirming. Almost 200 remixes and three studio albums later, the man better known as RAC has returned with BOY, an album that reminisces on the DJ’s rootless childhood. The record sheds the mindless jubilance of his back catalogue for moodier, more atmospheric production – but in the process, it also sacrifices personality. 

On several songs, RAC wears his influences on his sleeve, but these homages only emphasise just how inferior these songs are compared to their predecessors. ‘Boomerang’ begins with a guitar riff that’s reminiscent of an Angus & Julia Stone track. Unlike the duo, however, vocalist Luna Shadows has nothing to contrast her voice against, leaving her performance lukewarm. Similarly, ‘Solo’ is reminiscent of The xx’s haunting guitar tones and intimate production. Whilst the downtempo nature of their songs aren’t to everyone’s taste, the chemistry of Oliver Sims and Romy Madley Croft are legions above what Gothic Tropic offers on this track. Standalone, these vocalists don’t hold a lot of attention, and it makes for a monotonous listen – especially compared to their influences. 

In fact, underwhelming vocal performances are a recurrent theme for any of the songs on BOY. Whilst it’s admirable that RAC has retained many vocalists from previous albums, the performance of St Lucia on album closer ‘Better Days’ is tepid. This 80s ballad had the potential to be a hit with its throwback sound, but the track is too long and overpowers St Lucia’s delicate voice. The same could be said for ‘Together’, which could have been a pop smash in an alternate universe if it was fronted by a different singer. And whilst ‘Stuck On You’ doesn’t offer as much bite, its catchy songwriting is let down by Phil Good’s average vocal abilities. 

Inversely, some of the brighter performances on the album are undercut by boring instrumentals. ‘Toulouse’ initially sounded promising, utilising the gravelly confidence of Minke’s voice. Inexplicably, RAC gave Top 40-ready Minke cutting-room floor material when her voice could have elevated many of the other tracks on this album. ‘Change The Story’ offers nothing revolutionary in its summer-funk vibes, but it’s also one of the more upbeat moments on the album. Sadly, it does a disservice to Jamie Liddell’s extraordinary vocals, which it reduces to a weak rasp. 

It’s easy to appreciate RAC’s refreshing vulnerability in the context of his wider discography, however he dresses a lot of his songs with mediocre instrumentals and unflattering vocals. There are moments on the album which suggest great songwriting or arrangement, but it’s too inconsistent to be enjoyable. An album can be sombre, but BOY is left without any chutzpah or energy to carry our attention over its eighteen tracks. 

BOY is released on 8 May 2020 via Counter Records.

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