It sneaked out in March via the James X Boyd bandcamp site. They're from Brisbane. I caught up with the release in June and it blew me away. As Keats kind of put it, that is all I know and all I need to know.
I suspect that, had Keats tuned into my Dandelion Radio show this month, he'd have singled James X Boyd out as a particular favourite. Of course, as he died almost 300 years ago, it's a safe bet that he's not among my listening audience. But the reason I made this somewhat pointless and speculative observation is that James X Boyd occupies a pretty singular place among my current listening pleasures. During much of this peculiarly warm English summer I've had the windows open and assailed the neighbours with what they now know as a familiar barrage of the noisy and abrasive, but, as those same neighbours will probably attest, James X Boyd is different: he's got tunes.
And not only has he got tunes, they sit behind the kind of hazy, melancholic lines or first person narrative that Keats - were he to be alive today - would unquestionably want to nick. The ten tracks on this album find the singer in an almost permanent position of romantic exclusion, a default scenario, perhaps, when the minor chords are as gorgeous as these are. Guitarist Michael Fletcher joins the redoubtable Mr Boyd to play the kind of guitar lines you find so often in bands when they're still at a reasonably nascent stage of development and which too often get ditched when they get an ounce of fame and disappear up their own arses. To be honest, I don't know whether this band is at an early stage or not but, if they aren't, they've avoided this ugly fate with some panache. If they are, I beg them not to change.
James X Boyd & The Boydoids has been the ultimate album for this glorious summer. While I'm a great fan of incongruity, I must confess to an odd feeling of happy serenity when I pause from bugging the rest of the neighbourhood with Them Wolves or the new Endometrium Cuntplow offering (which is magnificent, by the way) and put on James instead. It kind of combines with the weather, with the pleasant tweeting of birdsong and with the occasional waft of the breeze. Its opener 'Blue Apia' is a sublimely poetic, almost spoken word teaser and probably prime contender for getting nicked by a Romantic poet, but it's a false opening in many ways as the rest of the collection is determinedly musical and atop it all is James's voice, half-sung and half-stated but always staying on the more productive side of a bruised ego and imbuing highlights like 'Milk Bar Blues' and 'Brunswick Street Junkies' with an irresistible charm.
But it's the jangly, almost unfeasibly catchy 'Diamond On Your Own' I've chosen to play in my Dandelion Radio show this month. As things stand, it's nudging me for a Festive Fifty vote and, as I find myself playing it at every opportunity, at the moment it stands a good chance of getting one.
Perhaps in another 200 years English Lit. students will be studying this rather than Keats: do 'em good, I reckon.