Meet boyband, the Artist Fueled By Anime, the Internet, and Emo Rap
Photo: Ana Peralta Chong
boyband is an eyes wide open sensory trip, a balloon ride of creative optimism buoyant above the prevailing trends of contemporary pop. Representing a new movement of curious contrarianism, boyband arrives as an artist not looking to find oxygen in the current state of music but to create a new atmospheric composition entirely.
That fearlessness and self-surrealism is also embodied in one of boyband's primary influences, anime. The title of his opus is taken from FLCL, a series whose pyromaniac loner, Mamimi Samejima, has "never knows best" penned on her cigarette. How could you not trust an artist so therapeutically linked to their work? The very process existing as a cathartic necessity of coping, with vocals that invite you to join in on a shared resolve against angst.
The roots of boyband can likely be best found in his own assessment, that "the internet has low-key fucked us up." A world of hyperconnectivity, filters warping reality, digital passive aggressions and typical teenage malaise, has made a generation of disaffected youth all the more vulnerable. This only compounds when racial identity layers a unique anger, seeking an outlet of understanding that is often left wanting.
boyband takes this post-modern mud of individualism askew and sculpts it into a hopeful dialect, free of tradition. The template of angst and nostalgia roots his music perfectly in a musical era still searching for a genesis of composition, and that might be his true mandate to "push it forward... to keep it going."
boyband's latest release, never knows best, is an emotional trial that cuts its teeth on the traumas of youth. It is a ten-track work with range and depth, injurious as it is satisfying. It has the weighty measurement of a classic generational album, and while that cannot be assigned, it is worthy of being sung angrily into rearview mirrors, weathered cityscapes, and basement bedrooms covered in Pokémon cards.
It blends all the principals of great artistry - a raw venom of inequity, expressed with surprise and mirth, approachable but intractably personal. With a narrative that leaves as much in as it takes out, never knows best is a danger not to be underappreciated, like eating around a poisoned apple core, its purpose "to weed out people who suck."
boyband's production background gives his music a deft athleticism unfound in most young acts, gifting his sound a confidence befitting his brash messaging. In a word, this project is revelatory. It is a testament that sometimes our unknowing, vulnerable selves is us at our best.
Listen to never knows best below: