Features

When it doesn’t try to be radio-friendly, ‘Mayday’ is Boys Noize in God mode

Alex Ridha has been blurring the lines between techno, rave and electro since the age of 15, creating music with an anarchist edge every step of the way. On Mayday, his fourth studio album as Boys Noize, Ridha takes that approach to its logical extreme, disregarding genre barriers with club music that intentionally puts two middle fingers up to convention and tries to be as different as possible.

As he told inthemix in the lead-up to Mayday’s release, Ridha wanted to make an album that offered an “option B” to the glut of unoriginal EDM. “Basically [it’s] a wake up call,” he told us. “The whole dance scene…is so stereotyped and functional. To me it’s all the same.”

That attitude works well for most of the tracks on the album. Taken as a collection of singles, Mayday offers up plenty to like. Album opener Overthrow is a low-slung, gritty electro track with strong industrial influences and random nods to old school rave; a sound which returns at the mid point of the album on Would You Listen and once again toward the end with Los Niños.

“Amongst all the hard-edged, gritty, abrasive and generally nasty tracks on the album, these saccharine, bubble gum pop songs stand out for all the wrong reasons”

Rock The Bells combines classic hip-hop samples with a gritty, old school big beat edge, while title track Mayday and Midnight sound like something from the early breakbeat hardcore days on a bad acid trip.

Ridha’s reverence for the old school continues on Euphoria, which channels the spirit of early 90’s Chicago warehouses with its jacking drums, catchy lyrics and funky blips and squeaks.

However, there are also bizarrely out-of-place tracks like the trap-indie-pop crossover Birthday featuring Hudson Mohawke and Spank Rock and the almost-too-cheesy collaboration with Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, 2 Live, both of which are evidently crafted with radio in mind. None of are bad songs per se  – they actually quite enjoyable – but amongst all the hard-edged, gritty, abrasive and generally nasty tracks on the album, these saccharine, bubble gum pop songs stand out for all the wrong reasons.

Overall, Mayday is full of great tracks – it’s just more like a bunch of singles than a cohesive album with a clearly defined direction (unless you want to get meta and argue it’s lack of direction is its direction). But a new album from Boys Noize is always cause for celebration – and when it doesn’t try to be radio-friendly, Mayday is Ridha in God mode.