Sly and the Family Stone, Buddy Holly and The Crickets – the idea of lead artist and backing band is age old. But the hierarchy implicit in the naming convention is arguably at odds with the romantic ideal of people getting together to create music worth more than the sum of their individual talents.
East London vocalist and guitar player Charlie Boyer decided that with his group Charlie Boyer and The Voyeurs, internal democracy was the way to go. Now called The Voyeurs, the band has recently released Rhubarb Rhubarb, the follow up to their debut album Clarietta.
“It kind of made sense really, we all agreed that’s what we should do because it reflects what we’re doing,” says Boyer. “It’s not me and a band now.”
Instead of the back-of-a-napkin approach employed on their debut disc, The Voyeurs have been able to spend a month in their East London studio with producer Oli Bayston – as opposed to the week they spent recording their debut.
And with each member of the band involved in the composition process, the 10 tracks of Rhubarb Rhubarb boast increased depth and a revolutionised sound.
“Things take longer now we have to fight and argue, prove our points and try and make it as good as everyone thinks it should be,” says Boyer. “We’ve got very good at arguing with each other, trying to carve out what the best possible thing is between us.”
Instantly recognisable is the involvement of keyboard player Ross Kristian, although now gone is the distorted organ that characterised their first release. On ‘Say You Love Me (And Choke)’ The Voyeurs prove democracy hasn’t blunted the group’s dynamism. The group’s trademark bouncy disposition segues into a synth-led chaotic coda, giving the song the feeling of being trapped in a lysergic snow globe.
Foot-stomping is never far from the fore, such as on opener ‘Train to Minsk’, which begins with slap-back delayed drums bequeathed from early seventies glam, and features an utterly infectious hook.
Kitchen-sink style observations are the order of the day thematically. As Ray Davies of The Kinks framed life on the ‘village green’, Boyer’s inspiration emanates from ideas of the domestic, sourced from the commonplace hubbub of everyday life but nevertheless “dark, cold, true stories”.
The idea that a more even-handed approach to music-making leads only to compromise is blown apart by The Voyeurs, who have organically become a unit, shattering their original mould with a success that’s measured in the delight of their latest offering.
Rhubarb Rhubarb is released on 10 November on Heavenly Records and The Voyeurs perform live at Red Gallery, 1-3 Rivington Sreet, EC2A 3DT on 19 November www.facebook.com/TheVoyeursOfficial