Unearthed: LOL Boys— Changes EP
Posted in Unearthed
The first time I saw the LOL Boys play live was also the first time I had given them much thought at all. Jerome and Markus were spinning juke-y rap tunes and my nerdish audio engineer technofriend was like, "This is the epitome of idiot music." I had heard a few of the Boys' productions and trusted the curation over at Friends of Friends enough to know that the duo's recorded work wasn't idiot music, but I could still see where my friend was coming from. I mean, there was this projector on one of the walls shooting the words "LOL BOYS" in three foot lettering, which from an objective standpoint looks pretty retarded.
One of the things about the LOL Boys that I have come to understand is that its name and persona can be…pungent. Jerome and Markus' sense of humor makes a strong first impression that usually starts with the name of their project, which is enough to leave a bad taste in the mouth of any any remotely pretentious listener/critic/RBMA/promoter/booking agent/radio host/etc. The name "LOL Boys" suggests to outsiders that Jerome and Markus don't take their project very seriously, which is exactly the assumption the Changes EP seeks to undermine.
The Boys' latest record displays a seriousness and sophistication they haven't yet played up. Starting with the opening drum break in the title track, Changes draws heavily from jazz; the one-take cover of the song by LA artist Anenon reinforces the sense that Jerome and Markus were looking outside the dance floor for inspiration. In fact, the record barely sounds like dance music at all; the woozy synth pads and drum patting on "Mind's Clouded" sonically recreate the feeling of having your eyes unfocused, which doesn't make for a very animated DJ set.
Reviews I have read so far suggest that the record's jazzy elegance legitimizes the LOL Boys in the eyes of DJ fans and connoisseurs, who tend to be less receptive to artists with big, colorful personas. From what I have surmised, DJ culture as a whole tends to covet privacy, which would explain the preoccupation with masks and why I often don't know what my favorite DJs look like until I see them IRL. Think about the live setup for a DJ performance versus a rock or hip-hop show: the DJ is distanced from the audience and separated by a wall of equipment. The tunes DJs play in a set don't directly speak to their life experiences (especially because, in a DJ set, they might not play any of their own songs at all). Meanwhile, the lead singer of Ceremony gets on stage to scream in his fan's faces about his ex-girlfriends (or whatever) and then jump on top of them.
For me, liking the LOL Boys is similar to liking their labelmate and IRL friend Shlohmo: their dumb #tarp tweets and tongue-in-cheek playfulness can be irksome, but I am also really attracted to it. And by that I mean, really attracted to it—like I kind of have a DJ crush on Jerome. Those Friends of Friends guys are like…okay well first of all they're fucking adorable, and second, they're the kind of silly buttholes that just barely pull it off, and although you hate to admit, it's a little endearing. (Oh, and they're good producers, which is the reason why you bothered to Google what they looked like in the first place.) Also, they remind me of the guys that used to slow dance with me at Bar Mitzvahs when we were 13 but then were too cool to fuck me in high school because they got hotter and didn't have a mushroom haircut anymore and joined the basketball team and started dating Josie. But whatever. I'm not even talking about the music at all anymore.