June 24 — “Stabbed” by Boyracer

Boyracer (circa 1994)

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Stabbed” by Boyracer (1994, from the album More Songs About Frustration and Self Hate).
Boyracer was a low-fi indie-punk band from Leeds, England. In the early 1990s, they released a few records, and changed lineups a few times before moving to the United States. They called it quits in 1997, but frontman Stewart Anderson reinvented the band in the year 2000. They called it quits again in 2009, but have re-formed for a couple of one-offs since then.

The lineup changed as frequently as the seasons, and Anderson was the only constant member. They sure did put out a lot of records, though. Between 1994 and 1996, there were three full-length albums, about six singles and a few EPs to boot.

Just before the first album, even with the band in a constant state of flux, they were signed to Slumberland Records. By now, you all know that for 20 years, I’ve adored almost everything on that mom-and-pop record label, whose focus is noisy shoegaze-y pop. I’ve got some more posts about Slumberland bands planned, but so far, I’ve already written about Weekend, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Rocketship, Veronica Falls, Frankie Rose, Henry’s Dress, Allo Darlin’, and Kids on a Crime Spree. Some of those, like today’s, are from the 1990s, but I love their current lineup at least as much as I love their alumni lineup.

Anyway, I discovered Boyracer because of their affiliation with Slumberland Records. They may have been a little less polished than other bands on the label, and maybe that was part of the appeal. In addition to being unpolished, they were somewhat anonymous. They didn’t publish their full names. They played these short, fast, hard songs, and they played them without messing around. They’re probably the type of band that would play a show, performing the songs at about 1.25x normal speed, and do it without saying one word to the audience.

Here, without further ado, is today’s song:
“Stabbed” by Boyracer

From the drop, I love the bass line by Nicola Hodgkinson. It almost sounds like it should be in an early Elvis Costello song. The guitar is simple. Just a strum or two, with lots of flange and delay. Drums are mostly rim clicks. It’s all about the bass. And then… At 0:45, the freaking hammer drops and it’s just a tasty, fuzzy wave of sound for the next 30 seconds or so. They played the quiet/LOUD/quiet part really well.

Then around 2:15, it becomes almost an entirely different song for a little while. It’s pretty bizarre, actually. Just these bursts of one fuzzy chord for a little while, coupled with a different bass solo. Then, it’s back into the crazy, fuzzy, loud bit. Nicola sort of takes over on lead vocal by the end of the song, too. I’m not really fond of the bits when Nicola and Stewart harmonize, but they’re each serviceable singers on their own.

The lyrics weren’t included in the original liner notes. It was “the thing” back then to offer a lyric sheet upon request. All you had to do was send a SASE. It’s almost like they were trying to keep the USPS and the Royal Mail in business. Of course they wanted to save money by printing a four-page cd booklet as opposed to a 12- or 16-page book. These days, the lyric sheet would be made available somewhere online. However, in 1994, we weren’t using the interwebs for things like that yet.

That said, I can’t really understand the lyrics of this song, and can’t find them online. All I can get is

Someone’s stabbing me in the back

then later:

I wanted to hurt you so many times.
Can’t you tell I wrote this for you?

which is followed almost immediately by:

Are you listening to me
Are you talking over me
These things matter to me
Make me feel like I am someone

Then at the end:

words are very precious and these things matter to me

I don’t know whether the song is about a guy who’s frustrated because his girlfriend wants too much of his attention, or if it’s about a guy who wants to say and do all of the “right things” for his girlfriend’s sake. I think there’s a line in there about going shopping. Maybe it’s not about that dynamic at all, but that’s my guess.

It’s not just the noise that makes the lyrics hard to discern. It’s Stewart. Apparently, there was a running joke that he was impossible to understand. Even when he was speaking rather than singing. Even when his audience was fellow natives of Leeds.

I guess I have a lot of “favorite bits” of this song. One of them is that little break between 2:30 and 2:55, with the bass and the fuzzy chord bursts. I also like the last 30 seconds or so, when Nicola takes over the vocals and it’s just fuzz city behind her. Of course I also like that bit at 0:45 when that hammer drops for the LOUD bit of the quiet/LOUD/quiet thing.

The album is out of print, and has been for some time. Used copies are floating around, or you can get a digital download from the amazon store. If you’re an eMusic member, get it here.

About dlee

North Carolina born and bred. I'm a restaurant guy who spends free time listening to music, watching hockey and playing Scrabble. I have a bachelor's degree in political science and I will most likely never put it to use. View all posts by dlee

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