ALBUM REVIEW: Sailor Boyfriend - 'Shapes & Colors'

written by Meghan Ianiro

On April 12th, Jersey City New Wave duo Sailor Boyfriend released their second full-length album Shapes & Colors under Make Believe Records. The eclectic album is a perfect blend of dark and vibrant atmospheres, wrapped up in a package that is undoubtedly a prime release for Andy Waldron (vocals, synth, lyrics, and programming) and Alex Mercuri (vocals, guitar, and bass). Each track on the album is a tale of survivalism and perseverance and in a crumbling world. Soundwise, each song sets itself apart and stands its own ground, and yet everything ties together to create an engaging musical adventure.

Unbuckle your seatbelts and embrace the void with Megazine as we review Sailor Boyfriend’s Shapes & Colors, track by track!

Album cover designed by Andy Waldron

Album cover designed by Andy Waldron

1. 'I Can See Them Too'

It may be hard to believe / But you can change all that you see

The album kicks off with the band’s latest single, 'I Can See Them Too,' for which they recently released their first ever music video for. The video, directed by Ruby Mastrodimos, depicts “a tale of overcoming anxiety through the supernatural power of dance.” Fittingly so, the song is like a boiling pot—starting with a bit sense fearful hesitation and building up perfectly to a celebratory sort of chaos. 'I Can See Them Too' seems to encapsulate a sense of awareness and taking the power back from the control we find ourselves under.

2. 'Tracy'

Tracy's a Socialist / Everybody knows this

'Tracy' is probably the most standout track on the record in terms of how unique it is to the rest of the songs on the album. The track has grooving riffs and syncopated vocals reminiscent of 2000s indie rock icons The Strokes and The Fratellis. The disorienting carnival vibe and vocal distortion toward the end of the song climaxes into a lullaby-esque conclusion, making the song a multi-layered thrill.

3. 'The Battle of Sugarhill'

Marching with our crimson platform shoes / Kneeling on our velvet leather pews

Then there’s 'The Battle of Sugarhill,' which is the poppiest track on the album. Dahl, Meier, and mirrorball bombs are quite the visual, but Sailor Boyfriend never falls short of painting interesting pictures and amusing imagery with their lyrics (with shapes and colors, perhaps? ...Bad pun...). The juxtaposition of a warzone and disco dancing makes for a witty, danceable track, and a memorable one at that. In that sense, 'The Battle of Sugarhill' would be the most defining track on this record, and the catchy hook is guaranteed to reel you in (worse pun).

4. 'Tape Measure'

A dial tone, leave me alone / Like a EKG, I’m flatlining

'Tape Measure' is quite possibly the highlight of Shapes & Colors, putting Sailor Boyfriend’s dynamic range in the foreground. Waldron’s sauntering vocals and Mercuri’s sweltering guitar wails eventually culminate into a funk breakdown that continues to build until the song is over. The song’s sense of angst and yearning is reminiscent of a disorientingly hot summer day, and we’re here for it.

5. 'Kick the Can' (ft. krissanthemum)

Kick the can / If you can

'Kick The Can' features Krissanthemum, a musical project established by the ethereal Krissy Lassiter. Waldron and Lassiter’s seamlessly interlacing vocals against the spacy musical backdrop makes for a soothing, psychedelic breath in the tracklist. The hunger for playful innocence and childhood nostalgia, followed by the minute-long instrumental outro, weave a thread of melancholy to the track. It’s a reminder of how fleeting time is, and to enjoy the wonders of youth while they remain, no matter the circumstance.

6. 'Bugchild'

I'm not scared anymore to break bread / 'Cause the world ain't cruel it's the one in my head 

'Bugchild' is massive and heavy, but also sultry and deliberate. Because of this, the song demands our attention and knows how to keep it. The track is visceral and alerts the senses, ultimately churning a a fearless sort of acceptance. The conclusion of 'Bugchild' is triumphant in a sense, almost making destruction sound comforting. Tons of iconic-ending-of-Fight-Club vibes in this one!

7. 'Jeff Leaves the Planet'

This is a horror story / Already in progress 

The dark, dronelike 'Jeff Leaves the Planet' is one of the the more guitar-heavy songs on the album, highlighting Mercuri’s seasoned instrumentation. The unique blend of sludge metal/classic rock guitar influences, pulsating bass tones, stretched vocals, and distortion makes this cryptic track even more captivating. 'Jeff Leaves the Planet' could easily be a hidden track on Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon. It leaves you with a feeling that something important is approaching, keeping you on the edge of your seat for all of it.

8. 'Shapes & Colors'

All I can see are shapes and colors / All I can see is now or never 

'Shapes & Colors' is the perfect conclusion for the album, and not just because it holds the same title as the album. The track highlights all of Sailor Boyfriend’s best qualities—their wide range on the genre spectrum, their fun quirkiness, their creativity, and the utter glam of it all. Not to mention, the musical outro of 'Shapes & Colors' absolutely shreds, not letting us forget, even for a moment, that Sailor Boyfriend gifted us with an album they put everything into.

Photo taken by Eli Trakhtenberg

Photo taken by Eli Trakhtenberg

You can keep up with Sailor Boyfriend on their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Official Website.

Shapes & Colors can be purchased on Sailor Boyfriend’s Bandcamp page in digital, or limited edition cassette formats. Full-color zines are also available for purchase, with a download code for the album and illustrations for each song from Kat Schneider, Laura Marciniak, and Andy Waldron.