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Boydos - It’s Alright, Look at Me I’m Young

The hospitality industry is a Petri dish for wasted talent. It teems with disaffected artists, waiting for the hangover to end and the adulation to start. Eddie Boyd understands that kind of groundhog day. Between tours he’s a “glorified kitchenhand, but I get to wear the chef shirt”. It’s the sort of gallows humour that could come straight out of his lyrics.

It’s Alright, Look at Me I’m Young is Boyd’s debut album as Boydos. He’s the fly on the wall of the gig economy of Sydney’s Inner West, delivering the observations of Kurt Vile and Lou Reed with a dose of adrenalin. It’s beautifully gritty and contagiously agitated.

The themes of procrastination and self-doubt, Boyd reckons, are “pretty common for people in their mid-twenties. Everyone’s trying to get their shit together.” Take first single ‘Plans’, based mainly on his friends (and, okay, a bit on himself). Friends who hope their girlfriend or parents will help cover the rent this month. Friends who use other friends as a yardstick for their own behaviour, calculating that they’ve got a few fuck-ups left before reaching the grand total of someone else’s.

I got concepts, I got ideas, I got notebooks full of writing / I got hardbacks, I got softbacks / I got friends and they’ve got contacts / I got hours, I got next year / I got mail I haven’t read yet / I got projects, I got projects…”

Then there’s the title track, an anxiety attack about being out-run by your peers. Appropriately, it was written on the fly in the New Zealand studio of producer Ben Edwards, who Boyd had previously worked with when he was playing guitar for Julia Jacklin. Boyd plays every instrument on the album but drums, leaving those honours to Clay Allen.

Growing up in the Blue Mountains, Boyd spent his youth busking, before studying classical guitar at the Sydney Con and touring a bluesy Eddie Boyd and the Phatapillars around the pubs of NSW. Boydos is very much a new beginning. The characters who inhabit It’s Alrightare the descendants of the ’90s slacker; only this year’s model is dealing with some very modern problems – such as, in ‘Left Hand’, the woes of FaceTime sex.

The blackly humorous ‘Asleep On My Stomach’ plays into Boyd’s fixation on the guts – via junk food, caffeine and alcohol – and his vocals nervily stalk the guitar line: “I keep my toothbrush with my cigarettes / And you would never guess by the shit I eat / That I’m just so terrified of death”. That self-conscious acknowledgment of being less than heroic also rears its head in ‘Stoned’, about struggling to be big enough to applaud someone else’s success: “I should be rooting for you, babe, like any love in his right mind / I couldn't even bring myself to praise you / I should be sipping on the Chardonnay but I'm choking on my pride.”

It’s Alright, Look at Me I’m Young may teeter on the abyss, but it’s too well anchored in humour to topple in. The tales regaled are likely to be too close for comfort for some people. As Boyd shrugs, “Everything’s out in the open now. It’s unavoidable.”