Review from Pitchform of Herzog’s most recent release “Boys”:
erzog’s Boys is a record you’ll never be able to mistake for anything else because all its ideas are laid out plain as day, ready to be soaked up by sad boys and girls who grew up on Weezer’s Blue Album, Thin Lizzy, cheap beer, and suburban ennui. The band’s music is “subtlety-free,” according to their Facebook, and their third, most fully realized record begins with a raucous vocal asking, “Hey you indie rockers/ Is everybody in?”, less a snarky call-out and more of a call to arms. They’re literally asking if everyone’s in the room so they can begin.
Pitchfork’s Ian Cohen described Herzog’s sound as “loud fuzz and slightly less loud fuzz”, and it’s easy to expect that template resembling yet another pro forma garage band indistinguishable from its peers. But Boys is defined by how much fun it is to listen to, dense with warring guitars and lurching with a sloppy grace. On “Mad Men”, they follow the snappy line “I used to write, but money’s made in publishing” with an insanely catchy whistling melody; “Bicycle Girls” is exuberantly out of control”, resembling a FIDLAR song with lyrics that don’t make you feel stupid when you listen hard. (Surprisingly, the song is a tender ode to a single mother.) At one point on the album, they sing, “What’s the point of writing songs if nobody ever wants to sing along”, and Boys is indeed hook-heavy, the vocals often double-tracked by the similar-sounding Nick Tolar and Dave McHenry.
It would be tiring if Herzog played loud and fast all the time, but luckily the band’s got a few curveballs in their repertoire. “Teenage Metalhead” rewrites Weezer’s “In the Garage” with the assumption that the kids eventually got out of the garage and learned to dance (or, at least, sway), detailing a road trip to Cleveland and buying weed from an Englishman “with a crooked tooth and a yellow van” before seeing the Black Sabbath exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “Saint Scrapyard” baits you into thinking it’s gone quiet with a few brushes of fluttering drums, before kicking back into a shared scream.
Boys is obsessed with interior states and vagaries of youth, singing about drunken nights that get broken up by the cops (“Oh No”), jokes from the sixth grade that are still funny (“It’s Hard Getting Old”), former rivalries that mellow out with time and maturation (“You Are Not the Villain”). You can’t deny the album’s focus on the titular male persuasion, not when they’re singing lines like “I write songs for boys/ ‘Cause I’m one of them” and “This is a theme for all the boys/ Playing guitars and making noise.”
And there’s something endearingly juvenile about openly referring to oneself as a “boy”—but it’s also possible to become excessively aggravated by consuming yet another piece of media that revels in having XY chromosomes. Also, there’s a very fine line between commenting on and complaining about one’s existence, and this album sometimes wears a little thin with its defeatism. Tolar sings a lyric as self-aware and wry as “Right now some things are fucked up for me/ But I won’t complain ‘cause it’s boring”, and then follows it up with a whine about having to go to a show by himself because all his friends stayed home. But Herzog are talking about themselves, and the boys of their lives; if you’re inclined to listen, you might find there’s a lot to recognize.