Boy Friend's debut album Egyptian Wrinkle snuck onto Popsiculture's pages back in December when we gave you a preview of the title track. Now the full thing is available and there are ten lush tracks to lose yourself in over the course of slightly-more-than half an hour.
In case you missed our December preview, Boy Friend are Christa Palazzolo and Sarah Brown, a pair who have worked together on several music projects during their 15-year friendship, but who only formed this duet in late 2010. Releases quickly followed - a self-titled EP at the start of 2011, and a 7" entitled Lovedropper in May 2011.
Egyptian Wrinkle is their first full-length album, but seems unlikely to be their last. There's a whole world of music wrapped up inside its jewel case, from the uplifting to the unnerving, and it's the kind of stuff that makes you really feel something - and that's always in demand, somewhere or other.
From the first few moments of opening track Rogue Waves I, you know you're in for something pretty special - and as the haunting instrumental picks up pace, it's tempting to skip straight to the end of Egyptian Wrinkle to find out what Rogue Waves II has in store. Resist that urge; a sandwich is always better with plenty of filling.
Further down the playlist, if you're going in order, Lazy Hunter seems like a perfect collision of theme and style. Vocals that are easy to pick out and understand, and electronic riffs that you'll catch yourself humming later, combine in a track that genuinely sent a shiver down my spine.
From Lazy Hunter, you're straight into Egyptian Wrinkle, the title track. It's hard to be totally objective when you're reviewing an album and it reaches the track you've heard before in previews, but Egyptian Wrinkle impressed me in its own right back in December, and I stand by that now. It's easy to see why it took the honour of being title track on this album.
Egyptian Wrinkle is a frankly astonishing debut album from an accomplished musical duo. Christa and Sarah haven't held back, throwing everything they've got into this work, and it shines through not only in terms of quality, but also in originality. Ambient, trance-like themes make each track verge on anthemic, but there's also a sense of restraint in the performance, an ephemeral quality to the vocals, and this helps Egyptian Wrinkle to avoid sounding pretentious even in its lushest moments of auditory indulgence.
Yes, there are other acts around at the moment composing similarly lavish soundscapes - The Sound of Arrows are an obvious example - but that serves to make Boy Friend feel relevant, not derivative. Their works are all their own, and have plenty of personality, and while there are tracks that are clearly intended to serve as part of Egyptian Wrinkle, rather than to stand alone in their own right, there's nothing that feels like 'filler'.
Final Score: 94%