As post-punk sees a revival—one that leans more toward the dark and jarring experimentations of the original movement in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s than the pop-inflected, danceable indie rock of the 00’s did in its post-punk reimaginations—the genre has been frequently condensed to an imitable, mapped out variation of its former self. That runs in obvious contrast to the reactionary and experimentally-minded work of post-punk’s original forebearers. Some acts have managed to take the genre as mere inspiration to produce their own great works and others have made admirable interpretations, even if they fit into a mold at times, but many have fallen flat as uninspired attempts to remake the past. Brooklyn trio B Boys have sat on that brink for a few years, their debut full-length Dada teasing a greater potential. On sophomore album Dudu the band excels at a consistent, slightly jittery punk drive but often falls into the trap of over reliance on its influences and struggles to carve out its own place in an already well-populated corner of the alternative music world.
From the start of opening track “Cognitive Dissonance” B Boys makes clear the palette they draw from: Wire-inspired speedy rhythms led by a simplified Parquet Courts snarl, with an occasional bit of Devo or Gang of Four for good measure. Here, and on most of the other tracks, the band sticks to an agenda of tight, hi-hat heavy drum beats, almost chugging guitar chords, active basslines, and half-spoken half-barked vocals. B Boys succeed in finding consistency with that formula and pump out short and fast-paced punk numbers with ease. It isn’t until the fourth track, “Automation,” that the Brooklyn trio veers in direction to a slightly more angular and open arrangement—before returning to the same incessant punk halfway through, albeit with some added energy in their yells. It works if that’s what you’re looking for.
B Boys best moments come when they break free, at least slightly, from the strictly repeated methodology. “Ceremonies of Waste” gives the bright and jiggly bass—perhaps the group’s strongest element—some extra strength in the mix with a more jangly and less distorted guitar leaving room. “Taste for Trash” leans the opposite direction with noisy guitar and heavily processed percussion additions creating a tense and claustrophobic atmosphere fit to the band’s societal critique-heavy lyrics. The titular closing track delivers best on the promise of B Boys’ influences with uneven drumming and cyclical guitar and bass truly disorienting and intriguing. It’s unfortunate that “Dudu” clocks in at only 49 seconds with no vocal but perhaps that’s part of its appeal.
For much of the album, B Boys seem to take pleasure in maintaining one tone and pace. Comparisons abound but Dudu feels stagnant and undynamic in comparison, a simplified and rudimentary replica. It’s an adequate release but, in an already crowded field of post-punk practitioners, gives little reason to warrant notice over the vast array of similar contemporaries, much less the classics and modern successes of the genre.