Submit your body to the throws of the heartfelt groove kaleidoscope that is Sydney solo artist Brendan Maclean’s stunning and multifaceted debut album, And The Boyfriends.
Ainslie Wills-featuring flagship single ‘Hibernia’ opens the record with furious funk fever, hurling us headlong into Maclean’s sonic imaginarium, which keeps our toes tapping through the slinky basslines of ‘Where’s The Miracle’, drunken retro synth of the wry ‘Not Too Stoned’ and infectious discoteque stylings of ‘Ghost’.
The record was named after a fictional backing band dreamed up by the ARIA-nominated vocalist and media personality (titular ensemble,The Boyfriends), but it’s far more than just a dancefloor reverie.
And The Boyfriends also delivers more than its fair share of emphatic, goosebump-inducing moments, with the crooning soul-pop balladry of tracks like ‘Goes Without Saying’, ‘Tenderness’ and ‘Layer on The Love’ plucking at our heartstrings with their raw and direct lyrical honesty.
Buoyed by the talents of co-writer and producer Sarah Belkner as well as Aussie vocal darlings Wills, Kira Puru, Montaigne, Donny Benét and Paul Mac -- all of whom feature -- Maclean uses his poetic words to paint poignant pictures of greened-out kids in ambulances in the Soho rain and heartbroken lovers hunched over atlases searching for their lost loves across Europe.
The openly queer artist, who was infamously banned by YouTube for his sexually explicit 2015 video ‘House of Air’, is more fearlessly self-reflective here than we’ve ever seen him. Nowhere is this more evident than in percussive disc closer ‘Wolf Run’, which was inspired by Maclean’s own experience with domestic violence and sees him reflect on the failures of his own masculinity. As he explains to Billboard:
“‘And The Boyfriends’ was always about reflecting on and empathising with the women in my life and also the lack of true femininity in myself. I’ve always been ‘camp’ but that’s an affectation not something real and powerful like femininity.
It was this or nothing. It is in some part a concept album if only to keep my mind focussed on the subject. The themes are so heavy and not easy to talk about, but musically captures an energy like nothing I’ve made before, not even close.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
After releasing five EPs, Brendan Maclean’s bold and brilliant debut album And The Boyfriends is out now, and it was worth the wait.