Music You Should Know: Revisiting Fake Boyfriend’s ‘Mercy’ EP

Fake Boyfriend © Alex Udowenko
Fake Boyfriend © Alex Udowenko

[a fake boyfriend] often fuels insecurities and anxieties about your lovability. if this person meets your parents they will be brought up for months maybe years by yr mom (“whatever happened to so and so, they were so nice!”). sometimes you convince yourself that this is “the one that got away” (they aren’t).

– a “fake boyfriend” defined by Fake Boyfriend

Mercy - Fake Boyfriend
Mercy – Fake Boyfriend

To take on the name Fake Boyfriend is to take on the role of a villain. A fake boyfriend is an antagonist, someone who lingers in your consciousness and nags at your confidence. And Fake Boyfriend, the band, happily plays this part. Their t-shirt design summarizes things pretty quickly – a switchblade, nail polish and a dripping font that seems to be a mix of blood and lacquer.

Of course, the band name and the merch all surround the core purpose of Fake Boyfriend: the music. And the music births the surrounding aesthetic. Fake Boyfriend’s debut EP Mercy (out February 2016 via Sad Cactus) walks the musical line between grunge and cleanliness. Snarls and distorted screams blend into satisfying harmonies, showcasing the complexity of the group’s musicality. The lyrics tend to dwell in dissatisfaction, depression, and retaliation.

Rewatching movies depressed in my bed
Can’t seem to forget those two things you said
Trying to make sense
Nothing’s compelling, nothing seems fair

[bandcamp width=100% height=120 album=2135141006 size=large bgcol=ffffff linkcol=0687f5 tracklist=false artwork=small]

But like the music, the lyrics are layered. The second track, “Bumtown,” takes the journey from a woman being depressed in bed to earnestly screaming to no one in particular that she needs to “learn how to be turned on.” The following track, “Wax,” stays more consistent, living in a warbly world that never quite breaks through the wax barrier that shrouds the music. It’s a track that can blend into the background among the more gloom and doom bangers that bookend the record, but still maintains a haunting hold on the listener with it’s pretty harmonies and unanswered questions.

It is perhaps most remarkable that Fake Boyfriend didn’t seem to need any more than four songs to convey what they needed to say. In roughly fifteen minutes they have written a quiet manifesto attacking the personal demons that come from heartbreak and feeling like shit. Despite the dark subject matter they deal with, they appear to be a band seeking change away from shattered pasts that we all generally house. They are flipping the villainous fake boyfriend motif on its head and finding a way for that nostalgic presence in many of our lives to be something to snarl and smile at.

Here’s to hoping that our collective Fake Boyfriend keeps us smiling and snarling for more albums to come.

Connect with Fake Boyfriend on Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp
Discover more new music on Atwood’s Picks
Cover: Fake Boyfriend © Alex Udowenko

Mercy – Fake Boyfriend

Mercy - Fake Boyfriend
Mercy – Fake Boyfriend
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