NBHAP Rating: 4,3/5
We Were Here
Label: Groenland Records
01. We Were Here
03. Hit My Heart
05. No Sleep For The Dreamer
07. New York
08. Rivers Or Oceans
09. Into The Wild
ALBUM OF THE WEEK
The world can be a big place, especially when you’re stuck in your own microcosm and it seems hard to imagine how life on the other side of the world must look like. How does it feel if these dimensions suddenly change and you get to break out of your small world? Swiss/German musicians Valeska Steiner and Sonja Glass aka BOY surely didn’t had such an impressive journey in their minds when they released their debut album Mutual Friends in September 2011. But slowly and steady the word got carried into the world that there’s something special about this little indie/folk gem which delivered such sweet hits like Little Numbers, Waitress and Drive Darling. First, BOY infected their home country and spent impressive 40 weeks in the album Top 100, club gigs suddenly turned into big outdoor events and Germany, Austria and Switzerland became too small for the two women.
Followed by two years of global touring BOY pretty much played everywhere they were called to. The duo followed the demand, peformed in Australia, Japan, Europe and multiple times in the USA as well. Yes, they might not had a big breakthrough in a commercial sense yet but they suddenly got fans all over the world and a different understanding of global dimensions it seems. ‘Cause everywhere we’ve been, we have been leaving traces, they won’t ever disappear’ sings Steiner in the title-track of the duo’s second studio album We Were Here. The song that opens the only nine-track-strong longplayer is both – position-fixing and a fresh start. BOY have to walk the always difficult tightrope of a second studio album. Familiar qualities have to find a new place within increased professionalism and new thoughts. Of course, We Were Here doesn’t sound like Mutual Friends anymore. Whoever expected that might have been a bit too naive and also underestimated the talent of these two women.
‘Everything’s on the move; the paint is wet, all colors are new/ But if you look carefully, you’ll see us shining through.’ – the opening-track with its tender but epic appeal sees BOY trying to lyrically reprocess those past four years. The journey, the impact it had and how every memory is always elusive. Fans of the debut will immediately notice changes within the duo’s sound. The drums have more stadium-appeal, a brass section gets involved and the whole sound gets a few more synthetic elements. Fear follows the opener with paced up tempo and the same ingredients. Everything sounds a bit more polished but thanks to Steiner’s crafted songwriting and unbreakable charm it feels quite intimate and honest at the same time. Hit My Heart and its uplifting spirit head into the same direction. You can’t blame the ladies for showcasing the better aspects of their current life from time to time when they sing: ‘Look how we shine, look how we celebrate our time.’
Still, We Were Here also leaves enough space for introspective moments. Hotel deals with the duo’s struggle of staying far too often in those places during their world tour. It couldn’t be further away from the glamour of rock stardom when they sing: ‘Checking in, checking out, nothing to write home about.’ The song turns a bit too epic in the end but that’s a common mistake bands used to make on their second album, right? But as long as they fit so perfectly together like in New York which is just a too sweet love song that’s both ambitious and quite intimate. We Were Here is also a lot about having love as your constant. No Sleep For The Dreamer documents the uncopiable feeling of falling in love in the nicest possible way.
And what to do at the end of the day? Maybe the hypnotic ambience of Into The Wild showcases one solution on how to deal with all the madness that suddenly breaks loose when you become a more or less professional pop star. Calming yourself down in the solitude of Mother Nature might not be the worst choice. We Were Here is a more than solid follow-up to Mutual Friends. It’s more ambitious but in a very charming way. It’s impossible and unnecessary to follow the exact same footprints of its predecessor. There’s no need in standing still and remaining in your small microcosm. There are so much good things to see, especially in times like these. The world might be a scary place but there’s far more beauty and good things to be found in it than you might think. And thank god, there are bands like BOY to remind us of that fact.
On We Were Here BOY deliver just the right balance between familiar songwriting qualities and new musical experiments while sounding more mature, focussed and confident than before.