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The biggest fetish of the late 20th century that has bled into the 21st is happiness, or rather an idea of happiness as a constant. The “secret” of happiness has launched the careers of a thousand self-help writers and, more darkly, lined the pockets of the big pharmaceutical industries prescribing it in a bottle. But what pop knows better – has always known better – than the pharmas is that a down moment is the more fertile moment, the richer moment, the moment with the power to propel us forward. We need the lows as much as we need the highs. Scrub that, we actively desire – whether consciously or not – dejection. For isn’t there something inherently sweet about staring forlornly out a window, something pleasurable in mulling over where it all went wrong? In turning that into promises for a better tomorrow?
LOL Boys – LA’s Jerome Potter and Montreal’s Markus Garcia – know that better than most. With tracks like Nomads and Moments In Heartbreak, the latter a skilful mashup of Art Of Noise’s Moments In Love and T2 and Jodie’s Heartbroken, they hinted at hidden depths of emotional texture wrapped up in their beloved combo of winky-sad-face chipmunk vocals and club fusion beats. With Changes however, the title track of their new EP featuring vocal duo Heart Streets, they go right for the gut.
Changes is a belter of a pop song with a massive, unashamed hook: Things won’t change until we do / Things won’t change until we do. It’s the simplest of truths, the most obvious of cliches and that’s why it sticks, why it hits, and what makes it pop perfection. The rise of the underground pop song has been an interesting one to follow this last year or so: kids with computers – like Grimes, Blood Diamonds, Physical Therapy and Outer Limitz – who started out getting kicks making weird shit but naturally gravitated toward making hooks; and the bigger, the better. Without being flippant, the idea of “being real” has a lot to do with it. More than a meme, it’s become the predominant mode of expression: love and respect earned for wearing your heart on your sleeve, for daring to show vulnerability in this most cultivated-image laden of days.
While with that name they’ve done their best to throw us off the scent in the past, LOL Boys reveal themselves as serious 21st century pop contenders with Changes. That sureness in showing their unsure side, in being happily unhappy and in embracing the cliches because that’s really all we’ve got is a killer combination in pop. “We all need to miss someone,” tweeted an internet friend the other day and he was right; it’s what keeps our hearts sharp and sure. What Changes illustrates so poignantly is that there’s nothing more bittersweet than missing someone when you’re still with them. Because it’s in dreaming of better tomorrows that we make them happen.