BOY SODA’s ‘THE DISTANCE BETWEEN THINKING AND FEELING’ is a magnificent portrayal of self
Representing that difficult-to-capture intersection between trepidation and wonder throughout his discography is the sensation that is BOY SODA. The sonically tenacious Sydney-based artist has dropped his landmark debut EP ‘THE DISTANCE BETWEEN THINKING AND FEELING’ where everything, from the already timeless cover art to the visuals, is creatively precise and intricate. Unencumbered by self-limitations or guidelines on the sound he’s fostering, BOY SODA elects to embark on a journey deep into the whirlwind tapestry that is his internal monologue.
On ‘THE DISTANCE BETWEEN THINKING AND FEELING’, BOY SODA shows the full width of his powers through his contributions to production on the project alongside writing and performing it. His influences are evidently sparse and unending throughout this EP, with his producer mind being akin to a mood-suiting futuristic jukebox that picks the exact song to accommodate the ever-changing emotional state of a human being undergoing their own naturally fluctuating inner turmoil, love and anxiety. So much so is the depth of BOY SODA’s musical pool to draw from that he’s able to weave such an unparalleled and extraordinary debut project.
We enter ‘THE DISTANCE BETWEEN THINKING AND FEELING’ with BOY SODA getting into his car on a presumably late, quiet and rainy evening. To preface this breakdown, it is important to note that as you go through ‘TWENTYOH5’ it becomes clearer that the journey it’s leading you on is split into four acts. Produced by BOY SODA and lovemedo, Act One of ‘TWENTYOH5’ beckons the listener’s full attention through the Sydney-based artist’s instantly soothing vocal stretches and swaying orchestral instrumentals that are abruptly interrupted by a sporadic electronic distortion. It immediately speaks to BOY SODA’s ability to effectively reflect the layers of his psyche in his music by conveying the trepidation he seemingly feels about the potential for his life to be thrusted off its course when it seems to be at its most harmonious.
The lo-fi R&B opening act proceeds to be swerved in a completely unpredictable direction in a moment where another artist may have opted for a bass heavy drop, except here BOY SODA instead implements funky drums, layered vocals and playful keys to kick-off Act Two. This portion of the track is a subversive statement of self-affirmation, where instead of telling himself to embrace love BOY SODA’s pain and anxiety around heartbreak leads him to diminish his self-worth and proclaim “don’t you waste your time on love”. From here, BOY SODA proceeds to keep the listener guessing as the mid-point (Act Three) signals the arrival of a BOY SODA who bangs his chest in defiance of outside doubt and those who slept on his music whilst utilising a crushing electric guitar as a backdrop to his confident and emphatic rapping. The Fourth and final act finds BOY SODA in a loving relationship where healthy compromise and an intimate connection has allowed him to finally be able to share the anxiety hand-in-hand with another who cherishes him deeply.
Concluding the song is a conversation between BOY SODA and his significant other who is needing a ride. It’s a full circle moment from the beginning of the track where BOY SODA enters his car and appears to take a minute to reflect on the critical junctures on the way to this period of his life. ‘TWENTYOH5’ traverses these critical moments in BOY SODA’s journey to finding self-love and confidence in himself, demonstrating that through the frustration at not seeing the fruits of his labour with his music grew a resilience and unfaltering self-belief that paved the roads he has since been on.
‘RIDE’ pertinently follows on from ‘TWENTYOH5’ by exploring the multitude of meanings with the word itself. With this track, BOY SODA is expressing his gratitude for that special someone in his life who made the challenging ride to this point all the more worth it. The upbeat track draws from traditional and contemporary R&B influences and gives BOY SODA the chance to craft a love ballad that is dedicated wholly to the person who makes the ride of his everyday magical, “They say what’s your best side and I point at you, understand that you’re my rock I’m better off with you”. ‘RIDE’ features vibrant production from ANH & yugiboi, HAMLEY and Huge Lake, with the mix of trickling and bassy drums playing perfectly into the track’s message, all of which is capped off by BOY SODA’s captivating enhanced vocals.
‘LOVEU2BITS’ pairs wonderfully back-to-back with ‘RIDE’ as BOY SODA cedes the full extent of his affection for his partner. BOY SODA’s lyrics particularly standout here, with the loving expressions spoken about this special someone – “I see the blueberry skies, snow globes inside of your eyes” – representing the depth of his love and the wealth of goodness that they facilitate in his day-to-day. The production is bubbly and infectious, allowing BOY SODA the space to attribute his own self-assurance to the sureness and nurturing provided by this loved one. That chorus is gloriously catchy as well.
WELCOME TO THE GLOW UP
‘WELCOME TO THE GLOW UP’ is one of the rare songs that ticks every box. The phenomenal production from Korky Buchek, expert lyricism and catchy hook delivered by BOY SODA will have you instantly singing along after the first listen. And to make it even better the video clip that accompanies it provides an insight into the weird and wonderful mind of BOY SODA, as we see his alter ego appear in front of our eyes. The high-octane song built around topics of self-love and confidence to be oneself across the multiple lives one has to live is BOY SODA’s way of telling the listener to ‘glow’ themselves up and enjoy who they are as a person. Instead of trying to make others happy, make yourself happy to be able to experience the ultimate ‘glow up’.
The intro of ‘LONELY’ establishes a beautiful jazz bar ambience which feels comforting and familiar despite the title of the song which suggests otherwise. BOY SODA captures an emotion that everyone experiences at some point or another, especially at a time when you are surrounded by your closest people and still feel like you are alone and unheard. BOY SODA ties this specific emotion to a relationship he thinks back to that may have been more toxic than he remembers. The production from Nerve and co-production from Boy Soda is sensational throughout the entire track, assuring a nostalgic feel to that also sounds fresh and exciting. The outro is magical, it had me dazed into deep thought. Simply beautiful.
As the final song on the EP, ‘BIG’ acts as the ultimate form of expression for BOY SODA. It is one of freedom, creativity and breaking free into a self-aware emotional space where we are able to acknowledge our flawed nature as people. Instead of fighting that urge to ‘overthink’, BOY SODA breaks the mould and lets it play out. The result is a beautiful piece of work that has you hooked from the first note. BOY SODA is able to incorporate the funky and hypnotic production alongside the well-crafted bars in his verses, but it is the rousing chorus that catches us off guard as it contrasts the condensed verses with a euphoric and joyful feel that would certainly be a welcome addition to any future festival set that comes BOY SODA’s way. ‘BIG’ is a reminder to allow ourselves to be human – flaws and all – by accepting the ambiguity of one’s path and the inevitability of emotional oscillation that fosters a realisation that the inconsequence of the minutiae that holds us back each and every day is fleeting in the grand scheme of things. Ultimately, ‘BIG’ is a beautiful way to conclude a gorgeous debut project.
As a writer you want to come across music that challenges you – both in a good and bad way. Undeniably though, BOY SODA has certainly satisfied the former rather than the latter across this entire EP. It’s a revelation to hear something with originality at the forefront of its sonic intent, and with the abundance of talent that the Central Coast born, Sydney-based artist possesses the innovation comes easy.
BOY SODA is truthfully an individual who incorporates every bit of himself within the music, encompassing his internal monologue on each track with an abandonment of fear. His willingness to dive deeply into his internal conflicts resonates with listeners because of the authenticity of these thoughts, and there can be no denying that in spite of these fears, it is clear that BOY SODA is determined to give everything of himself to push musical boundaries and shake up the scene in spite of his doubters and ill-wishers. For the sake of the Australian hip-hop and R&B scene, we hope he remains steadfast on the virtuosic and unprecedented course he’s on.
Photo 2 by @dexter.lola, Photo 3 by @joebrennarghh
Words by Matthew Badrov, Joachim Subramaniam & Maroun Ghossain