Did someone at HIGHGRND stalk my social media accounts? Or did they get access to my music library? After a string of releases that each have left me more and more satisfied (I’m still listening to millic’s and HYUKOH’s albums a little too often, just saying), the independent label now just released offonoff’s first full album, titled boy. (with the dot). And just like the rest of the releases they’ve been putting out, boy. is quickly climbing up my list of favorite records of the moment.
I first heard of the duo offonoff around the time of the release of the single Photograph in November 2016. The title of the single, “Photograph,” actually figures on boy. It was already one track I was familiar with, alongside the b-side “Moon, 12:04am,” and definitely a track I already enjoyed. From the start, I knew that whatever was waiting for me in boy. was going to please me.
The album sustains the same calm, chill vibe through every track, one after the other—so one could say that musically, boy. isn’t very audacious in sound. boy. is the kind of album you have to listen in one go (and on loop) to truly appreciate, not only because of the way the sound flows from one song to another but also because of the progression of the story told through the lyrics. The story doesn’t follow one character, nor any kind of narrative, in fact—but the themes explored through the tracks sort of follow each other, making the album one encompassing endeavour in the world of the offonoff duo.
As we go through the tracks, it is obvious that from the start “Cigarette” is already a favorite. Featuring Tablo and the incredible (and, in my opinion, underrated) MISO, the song talks of a bittersweet, addictive love that resembles a cigarette. The lyrics in English aren’t simplistic—and it’s definitely thanks to Tablo’s brilliant verse. The way he has with words, making simple expressions highly emotive and sounding melodic all the while, truly adds to the song. Add to that MISO’s soft, angelic voice, and you obtain the near-perfection that is “Cigarette.”
The title track “gold” features DEAN, which is already a selling point on my end. Pacing fast rap with dreamy falsettos and vocals, DEAN definitely puts his characteristic touch to it. It goes beyond his voice; you can hear it in the melody, in the way the song is built. Maybe “gold” is one of my favorites for completely biased reasons, but I’m definitely not unhappy about the fact that it stands as a title track for an album like boy.
The song of the same name, “boy,” is also definitely worth a listen, leaning more on the urban beat style than the rest of the album. But the real next highlight on boy. is the second title track, “Dance.” It has more melodic elements to it, especially in the instrumentalization of the track (which includes wonderful, wonderful guitars, as well as a more sophisticated beat without picking up in pace). The vocals, too, follow more of a melodic flow, from the sung parts of the chorus to the rap verses. The result is a laid-back masterpiece with a chill vibe, which is depicted in the music video.
Closing the album are the two amazing songs “homeless door” and “Overthinking.” They’re both quite long, enhancing the very introspective feeling they both give off in terms of sound as well as within their lyrics. “homeless door” has a very simple background track, letting us focus entirely on the vocals and the melancholy and loneliness they carry. The featuring singer Rad Museum, a member of Club Eskimo (or so it says on SoundCloud), has a unique voice that fits perfectly with the lower tones and the slow beat of the song.
“Overthinking,” the last track on boy., starts with dark lyrics overlapped on an urban ballad track, composed only of beats and simple chords. It’s excruciatingly slow, even, but it fits with the emptiness expressed in the lyrics. “Overthinking” is a very special song, one that’s hard to describe, especially as the second half of the song is rich in strings, synths, and distorted elements that suddenly appear and turn it into this grandiose ending track.
Again, to get the most of what boy. has to offer, you have to truly take the time to listen to it from the first to the last track and get immersed in the music. Though the songs are great on their own, too, it is the kind of album that’s more enjoyable as a complete product, a storytelling piece that is both haunting and enchanting—something not many artists can pull off easily but that offonoff definitely proved themselves to be capable of.