A horrible hack

Boys Life

Departures & Landfalls

Year Released: 1996
Format: LP
Label: Cargo - Headhunter
Reviewed by Andy Malcolm on Aug 21, 2015
19 years on, and Departures and Landfalls has been reissued. Iím trying to place where Boys Life sneaked into my life. I recall that for quite some time I was very staunchly of the opinion that s/t was far better than D&L, I had that lovely Hammer Press edition of the s/t album on Crank, and a crappy little CD of D&L. I was all about the angsty Drive Like Jehu pilfering what s/t offered up and couldnít wrap my head around the slowcoach meanderings of D&L. Eventually I managed to commandeer a copy of D&L on vinyl via Amazon for not a huge amount of cash, because Skylab had long since upped sticks. And I got older. And older. And tbh I canít tell you the last time I listened to s/t but... this record. This record. Weíd sit on the Collective forum for hours, fueled by cheap beer and emo and discuss shit like this. Was this an album for humid late summer nights or cold and wet autumnal evenings? The memory firmly attached to this record for me is the day after I stopped living with my partner of the time in 2008, and got up early that morning, a bright and chilly February morning, and stomped around fields in Norfolk, listening to this and Rainer Maria in the frost and only barely getting a handle on where my life was at right at that point. Thatís what emo is for, it has a handy knack of framing things I find.

Sitting here at the ripe old age of 38, as the first couple of songs of D&L glide in and out and then that SD40 (am I right? I think itís an SD40) horn and diesel engine rumbles on in, the shivers go up and down my spine. The SD40 is a classic, youíll hear it in the background of half the scenes in Justified, and many other TV boxed sets. Such an evocative sound. Itís a defining moment of this album. An album full of scenes conjured up through sound. And pictures too. Iíve never visited anywhere near where Boys Life came from but D&L brings to mind pictures. Huge skies. Mile long freight trains. Wide open spaces. What a great place to be. Partly why this album resonates so much with me is that the sounds and feelings translate so well to Norfolk, where I have spent approximately 90% of every day I have ever had. Norfolk does the big skies and the middle. Iíve seen radio towers framed by the greatest sunsets, pylons setting off the most incredible skies. Norfolk is my midwest and the sounds of this album conjure up images that will stay with me till we're done.

Look. This album has been special to me for a fair old while. Itíll be special to me forever, and now itís available on vinyl again. I could wax lyrical about so many songs on here, but instead Iíve self obsessively banged on about myself. Thatís because this album goes beyond music for me, in that weird way that all your favourite records do. This is a self indulgent, beer fueled review that I wanted to do as a cheesy love letter / thank you letter to Boys Life. This album hung with me just when I needed it, and for that, Iíll be forever grateful.

Recommended record by Collective Zine!

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