Nora Karlsson, aka Boys, is a 22-year-old Swede from Umae, a city located in the country’s northern portion known for “its museums and cultural institutions.” She plays guitar and contributes backing vocals for HOLY, another Swedish band signed to Pink Slime Recordings (PNKSLM). It took her five years to finish recording her first album, Rest In Peace, which also found her moving to the comparatively gigantic Stockholm.
Between 17 and 22, many go through some of the biggest changes of our lives – finally released from the shackles of our youth, we begin to explore the wilds that are the adult world, even if it is in a somewhat watered down state, where consequences are less severe. But there is a lot of growth, emotions, and change, and that can all be heard in Rest In Peace.
From the beginning, Boys’ spirit bursts. It swirls and bounces and is full of youthful energy. The palette is bright and vast. Opening track, “It Is Silly”, fills the air with synths pushing forward and gloomy vocals that together fall somewhere between a rainbow and the prior clouds that produced it.
Despite it being only eight tracks in length, Rest In Peace is diverse as it swims its course through its broad indie rock template going from grand string arrangements to garage pop to synth pop and back to intimate singer-songwriter pop. The dazed out sense of summer youth comes fully realized on “Rabbits”, where laughter, foam, and gentle ennui deliver a kind of summer respite that is filled with as much relief as it is anxiety. Despite the broad reach of the record, there remain a youthful sense that strings it together.
“End of Times” finds Boys exploring sounds in varied natures, adding colors from various backgrounds in deliberate brushstrokes that prepare listeners for the record’s zany back half, which moves into an, at times, almost Shugo Tokumaru-type psychedelia. The woozy-ness found on the latter portion of the LP, with its large bursts of noise, at times wide and distorted and at others cutting and direct, point toward an awareness of global sounds and a connection to the surrounding scene that she has explored some amount while on tour with HOLY.
Nonetheless, there remains something truly Scandinavian about Boys’ brand of indie pop that looks to keep itself somewhat at arms length, which here is not a fault but rather a characteristic of strength. Nora desires to stand on her own, and through Rest In Peace she shows that her unique voice and broad palette deserve listening. Even more so, they demand it.
HURRY – LISTEN – BOYS
PHOTOGRAPH BY ANNA RAUHALA