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Boyracer - Punker Than You Since '92

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Artist: Boyracer

Album: Punker Than You Since '92

Label: 555

Review date: Aug. 30, 2006

The art-punk group Boyracer was formed in 1990 in Britain. Since then, they've changed lineups about a hundred times, broken up for several years, reunited, built an enormous discography, and, apparently, moved to the United States and set up shop in Flagstaff, Arizona.

The two-CD, 75-song compilation Punker Than You Since '92 shows that despite all that, they've never actually changed much. The first of the two discs collects material they made in 2001-2006; the second collects their best material from 1991-1996. (Some of the second disc had to be re-recorded recently because of copyright problems, but most of it features old recordings.) Listen to each disc once and you may not be able to tell which is which on your second go-round.

Boyracer's extremely limited aesthetic range is probably more of a strength than a weakness. It helps that they play a kind of music – tiny, snappy punk songs along the lines of Pink Flag-era Wire, with maybe a hint of '80s indie-pop thrown in – that would typically depend on simplicity and an economy of means to make its point.

It also helps that they have a very distinctive sound. Stewart Anderson's peculiar enunciation and oddly forceful delivery sound like a person with a cold trying to speak to someone across a large room, and Boyracer's guitars always seem to have the same thin, 4-tracked sound no matter who's recording them or on what technology. The band's songs are usually much shorter than regular pop songs – you don't squeeze 75 songs onto two CDs by accident – and faster, too.

Boyracer rarely stray much from that sound, and they're out of their element when they do (as on 1994's cloying ballad "Friend," for example). As a result, this 75-song compilation can be a bit daunting, though a lot of it sounds great in four- or five-song chunks. It's funny that Boyracer has lasted this long. I'm glad they have – the first CD here, the one that features newer and slightly poppier material, is better than the second. (Ultimately, that's how you can tell the two CDs apart.) But they really sound like the sort of band that releases a couple of 7" singles and then disappears.

By Charlie Wilmoth

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