BOYO Breaks Down Their Meditative LP “Alone Together in Los Angeles,” Track by Track
Robert Tilden walks us through their second album of 2020, which is out today via Park the Van.
Ever since BOYO released their cozy, wintry album Where Have All My Friends Gone? in the dead of summer, I’ve been looking forward to huddling over my heater while listening to it. Though, ironically, now that the time has finally arrived, Robert Tilden has another LP out in the world—a hazy, slightly funky record that seems best suited for hot June afternoons.
Alone Together in Los Angeles takes Tilden’s accomplishments on Friends and contrasts them with the concerns that weighed down that album, with the result sounding like early Tame Impala married with sun-soaked shoegaze. According to Tilden, though, the record takes inspiration from Bradford Cox, Sparklehorse, and Madlib, as well as John Lennon and Stephen Malkmus, as the track by track below highlights.
With the record out today, we had BOYO takes us through the album song by song, offering some context for the record’s unexpectedly light tones.
1. “Tough Love”
I was really into the song “Mind Games” by John Lennon while I was making this song and wanted to make a more minor key, phased out, but still meditative song with a similar sentiment. I was really into getting this ’70s stereo drum sound and then completely destroying it with saturation and phasing during certain fills and moments because the song kind of chugs along like “Mind Games.”
This almost ended up on my last record (Where Have All My Friends Gone?), but it was a little sprightly and aggressive. I always loved this song and finally found a home for it—I wanted track two on this record to sort of smack you awake after “Tough Love” fades into oblivion. I was sort of going for a late Of Montreal feeling, where things are seemingly upbeat but the lyrics are dark; I used to have extreme OCD and still struggle with remnants of it.
I was listening to a lot of hip-hop and had this hook in my head that felt like it could be a sort of wavy hip-hop chorus between verses and bars. The verses, subconsciously, and now looking back, are definitely inspired by my good pals in the band Vansire and playing tons of shows and touring with them—the way the bass and the drums move together and synchronize in certain moments is definitely a nod to them.
4. “Ghost Noise”
This is one of those “puzzle songs,” as I like to call it, where I just layered elements upon elements and everything just worked and felt right. It was a little too lighthearted and peppy sounding, so I needed to add a sort of “shoegazey release” ending that felt a little evil and contrasted the wordless choruses.
5. “Analyze This”
I was listening to a lot of Stephen Malkmus, and was trying to do my own, genuine version of a laid back phrasing very much indebted to him. I like making songs about social faux pas and lyrics verging on dry, observational comedy. I think this one kind of captures that vibe.
This song is supposed to paint a picture of a relationship on the verge of collapse, with two passive passengers on the ride engaging in their normal vices and their faults reemerging on a lazy Sunday. I wanted everything about this song to feel drunk and lazy.
I really liked this simple, nostalgic chord change and drum pattern that didn’t change but just got more intense. The words are just repeated over and over again, measured approval from a stoic father exemplary of a classical patriarchal trope of nothing being good enough: “It looks good to me, but I would change a couple things.”
A psyched-out throwback to some of my earlier stuff—the lyrics are even a nod to that: “Been way too long, since I wrote you a song.” Wanted to make something that sounded sad and carefree at the same time, which I think was the starting point for a lot of my earlier songs.
9. “Memory Lane”
I liked the very kind of on-the-nose idea that the colloquial memory lane is something metaphysical, where you can be left behind wandering through time. I felt very isolated, not being able to party and catch up with friends in a “normal” early-twenties way when my epilepsy started hitting me, since a lot of hangs are predicated on substances and late nights. I wrote this song feeling very sorry for myself, so just bear that in mind.
10. “Lost and Found”
It’s funny, listening to the album in sequence, this is another “sorry for myself” song, but in a different way. I was still pretty isolated when I made this, but there’s some hopefulness in the words and chords that I think is indicative of the shift that started in my life and new friends popping in and a healthier lifestyle setting in.
11. “Fade Out”
I grew up with the idea of death almost being taboo, something really evil and scary. My dad rejected religion pretty hard after growing up very Jewish and I think mortality has always been this looming concept that’s either not discussed or discussed with great weight. This song is sort of a meditation on life, relationships, people coming in and out of your day-to-day, the inevitability of shit just ending, and that being OK.
I wrote this song when I was fifteen after my first real heartbreak and it has always kicked around my brain. I finally re-recorded it but tried to keep it close to the original, mimicking my younger voice and running everything through my four-track into my computer to get a marriage of the crushed, lo-fi sound I used to get and the cleaner sheen of my newer songs.
It’s a lullaby for heartbroken folk, and I’ve always been fond of how simple it is. Toward the end of it, the song sort of falls apart, the shoegaze guitars gently but noticeably distort and clip into the four track and and drum sticks flop and drop and the song fizzles out—something about how intimate and close feeling this song sounded, homespun and warm compared to shiny track 1, that made it a cool contrast as a closer to me. Maybe I’m also insane, and this is just a wild playlist manically curated. Either way I hope you enjoy.