Boyracer released On a Promise in July of 2020 and this is by far the best sounding record from Steward Anderson’s 30 year project to date.
This album comes 12 years after their last full release of fresh material, but somehow it doesn’t feel like the band has ever left. We still get the fuzzy pop quick-fires that makes these records so much fun to listen to, with the rowdy and gentle dynamic that characterizes the duality of the bands pop and punk side. Even as the years go by, Anderson’s ability to build melodies still remains strong, and it’s fun to see them maintain and progress this as we go through their discography. Pick any Boyracer song, and you can bet that it’s always catchy and fun, even with their more melancholic tracks – and it’s great to see that aspect of their music preserved through the decades.
Openers “Hit and Miss”, “Crack the Red” and “Bunk off Work Today” frontload the record with fun rompers filled with fuzzy guitars and dancy rhythms. These are the staples of the band’s sound and fans will be undoubtedly happy to dance along with these tunes.
Anderson is joined by a new bandmate in Christina Riley in this record, who provides great harmonies that blend well with his own voice. She does this especially well in “So Long”, which is a stripped down song that finds the narrator wistfully bidding farewell to someone special. Her voice contrasts well with the fuzz in this track, effectively conveying the feelings of regret and longing in this song. Similarly, in the single “Girl in a Soul Band” her presence looms over Anderson’s wishes to “sing like a girl in a soul band” with precision and clarity. I could disagree with Anderson and tell him that his voice is fine as it is, but I’m too busy vibing along with the moody horns and dancy beat.
At the latter half of the album we see themes of Anderson relaying his heartfelt accounts while maneuvering through adult life. This starts with “The Rest of Yr Life”, where he finds himself reflecting on his own life and thinking that whatever he does, nothing may be enough. “Bored and Lonely” expresses how he’s “clinging to the wrong things” but doubles it back by saying “it could be worse”. In closer “Entitled” he says “It’s hard when you’re young / but it’s harder when it gets older.” These songs have fun melodies on their own right, but the band’s carefree demeanor is replaced by the stark realities of life. This is what I find to be the best aspect of the album, showing growth in an artist while still maintaining their own charm. Boyracer is back from slumber as strong as ever, and new fans should have no trouble diving in.