Four[1]Ok, here’s one that we missed in the pre-Christmas rush but we got there eventually.  The Exploding Boy is a darkwave alt-indie band from Stockholm which takes its name from a Cure song and the members are Stefan (vocals/electric guitar), Johan (vocals/acoustic guitar), Nick (keyboards) and Les (lead guitar).  Just a quick look at the titles on the album, “Four”, tells you all you need to know about the mood and lyrical content (“Going to Hell”, “Dark City Pt.II”, “Shadows”, “Awful” and “Scared to Death”) but there’s a lot more to it than that.  The band takes a lot of inspiration from the late 70s/early 80s post-punk era, with some later Goth elements thrown in.  The opening song, “Cracked/Reasons”, sets the tone for the rest of the album with an over-driven guitar riff, huge drums and thunderous bass with some keyboard to add texture. To counteract the dark arrangements and lyrics, however, there are some great melodies, particularly in the choruses.

Most of the influences seem to come from the period when post-punk was at its darkest; you can hear elements of Joy Division, Psychedelic Furs, B Movie and possibly even “White Wedding”-era Billy Idol.  The way the keyboards are used reflects this, adding to the overall textures rather than featuring as lead instruments as they did when post-punk morphed into the New Romantic movement.

There’s plenty to like on “Four”; the arrangements are exciting and there’s plenty of contrast between the strong melodies and the dark lyrics dealing with death, darkness and alienation throughout the album.  Overall, the album works for me, with a couple of reservations.  A couple of songs feel a little raw with arrangements which seem to fall apart rather than finish and some of the lead vocals are a little strained at times.  “Four” isn’t perfect, but it’s full of great ideas.  Crank it up to 11 and enjoy it.

Out now on Artoffact Records/Drakkar/Sony.