Christa Palazzolo and Sarah Brown first gained notice as two-thirds of Sleep âˆž Over, anAustinoutfit specializing in funereal nu-gaze music. The pair formed Boy Friend in late 2010, with the single “Lovedropper” (included here) winning acclaim last summer. They claim they recorded their debut “surrounded by dogs, bongos and warm Texan vibes,” but it sounds more like it was recorded on an ice floe surrounded by swirls of smoke, delay pedals and the president of the Cocteau Twins fan club.
Boy Friend’s sonic resemblance to the Twins is unavoidable: You could almost blindfold somebody, tell them this was those elevated etherealists’ comeback, and get away with it, though they might complain that Elizabeth Fraser’s voice had dropped a register or two. Quivering guitars echo Robin Guthrie’s patented technique, and the overall ambience owes its warm, multilayered charms to the likes of “Pearly Dewdrops’ Drops.”
To find what Palazzolo and Brown bring of themselves to this barrage of beauty, you must focus on the slow, sad songs sewn subtly into the textures and atmospheres. Breakups and lovesickness frequently infiltrate the lyrics, as do elements of far-reaching fantasy. Boy Friend sound wounded at heart, their fallen-angel sighs rich with ennui. They seem besotted with pain over pleasure, longing over lust.
It’s hard to pick out highlights in what’s essentially a sound-bed of mood pieces, but “Lazy Hunter” and “In Case” marry rhythm and melody perfectly, while the title track is a blend of washed-out trip-hop drama and keening soul. “The False Cross” releases a buzzing undercurrent of propulsive guitars which pushes those voices almost pop-wards. Boy Friend may be borrowing from the best, but their commitment and creativity ensure they’ll have plenty of suitors.