Alex & The People’s ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ blends blues, garage and folk rock into one debut album

Alex Alvanos plans to release the album on April 25

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(Album art courtesy of Alex Alvanos)

By Quinn He, Assistant Arts Editor

The early morning sun peaks over the Boston skyline as Alex Alvanos looks out the window on his train ride to work. The sun beams onto his face as he writes song lyrics and hums the melodies he will record later that night. For three and a half years, Alvanos wrote on the train and recorded his music in an empty room at a music school, with noise from construction filling the air between takes. At last, Alvanos, the credited songwriter for all songs on his album, plans to release “Boys Will Be Boys” under the band Alex & The People on April 25.

“Boys Will Be Boys” is a diverse and lively debut album: it initially shows the listener blues roots, but as the album progresses, characteristics from other styles of music poke through. Alex & The People grab at overdriven guitars, peaceful piano melodies and calming violins to lull the beasts of distorted guitars, as jumping drums and howling vocals attempt to herd them together. “Boys Will Be Boys” has a unique sound that was hard for my ears to pinpoint on the first listen. Alvanos’ poetic lyrics speak mainly on boyhood and the experience of growing up, while contemplating what is left behind as we enter a new phase of life.

“Hell’s Hotel,” the first song off the album, brings the listener in with the rapid strumming of an acoustic guitar through the right channel before a steady backbeat and lead guitar bust through. A roomy kick drum and terse snare punctures most of the mix and acts as a foundation for the bluesy slide guitar to move around. The Rolling Stones-inspired lead licks, overdriven rhythm guitars and forceful piano chords eventually engulf the track in the outro before morphing into drizzling feedback and descending scattered piano lines.

One of two singles, “Broken Elevator” lyrically grapples with a harsh reality of entering adulthood in America. As the lyrics imply, you “walk through that door” from adolescence into adulthood, you might end up “unsure what you came here for.” It doesn’t help that “the whole world’s keeping score” as the chase for a paycheck remains on the minds of many recent graduates. Yet, as he sings in the final line of the verse, “hands you a mop, you were made to be poor,” it does not paint a desirable outcome. Alvanos uses the metaphor of a broken elevator to call out a broken economic system, leaving countless individuals to take the long, steep staircase to success, whatever that may be for some. Bouncing rhythm guitars, one for the left and one for the right channels of the track, sandwich Alvanos’s poetic lyrics and drum beat.

Alex & The People slow down and disengage the distortion pedal with one of the strongest tracks off the album with “Gonna Try to Love You,” a trimmed down ballad about trying to love someone when they can’t reciprocate the feeling. As a smooth violin slices like butter between Alex’s toned down howl and acoustic guitar, he finishes the chorus, echoing “I’m gonna try to love you/and I’m gonna try to hold you.” The song is a nice break for the ears at this point in the record.

The album comes at the audience with large influences from blues, classic rock and folk. Alvanos has said he pulls inspiration from Jack White, The Rolling Stones, Joni Mitchell and The Strokes. “Boys Will Be Boys” is a unique and refreshing twist on genres that have been around for generations. A song like “Bombshelter Blues” utilizes the immortal 12 bar blues, but douses it in distortion. It doesn’t get more rock and roll than that. “Brought Our Stones,” a flamenco inspired groove, seems intentionally placed after this track to contrast it. The standard drum kit is restrained, leaving room for bongos and a maraca to fill the rhythm section as Alvanos sings of greed and money in the hands of powerful people in this country through his lyrics. This song in particular is well mixed, utilizing panning to create a spacious atmosphere for the various percussive elements.

“Waitin for My Train to Come” and the title track, “Boys Will Be Boys,” can be described as softer and calmer amongst a few other overdriven songs. “Waitin for My Train to Come” is quiet and intimate, letting a lush violin sweep through Alvanos’ delicate finger picking. As the song ends, there is a cathartic sigh of relief, displaying Alvanos’ emotional need to get those words out.

The title track opens with a deep inhale and exhale that makes way for an enjoyable acoustic guitar melody. Alex echoes the age-old excuse “boys will be boys,” but asks the listener, society and himself, “when will we ask them to be men?” It’s an interesting question to consider. The final lyric trades “ask” for “tell,” demonstrating that society doesn’t ask, but tells us when we must grow up.

Alvanos artfully brings garage, folk and blues rock together with “Boys Will Be Boys” as he sings of boyhood, growing up and all that comes with it. I’m sure when the album is released, songs like “Brought Our Stones” and “Waitin for My Train to Come” will find themselves weaved into many playlists.

“Boys Will Be Boys” is a solid debut album by Alex & The People and will be available on all streaming platforms on April 25, but those eager can listen to singles “Broken Elevator” and “Waitin’ for My Train to Come” here. Alex & The People will be hosting a Virtual Album Drop Party at 8 p.m. EST on April 25 where fans can sign up and ask questions at their Q&A.

Quinn He can be reached at [email protected]