Conor Meara, singer and guitarist of Bordentown band Roy Orbitron, may be the most honest and sincere songwriter I know. He wears his heart on his sleeve and puts it all out there. It is not always pretty. Life and love are difficult roads to travel. There are lots of twists, turns and pitfalls and Meara is not shy to expose the wounds he has suffered along the way. This kind of autobiographical songwriting is all too rare these days. For him it must be cathartic. For us it is an emotional and thrilling listen. It is what makes Roy Orbitron’s first full length album, Girl’s Boyfriends, the amazing record it is.
“Love Die Hard” opens the album with a burst of tumultuous energy as Meara sings about love gone bad even when you think you’ve finally found the one. This is the trademark Roy Orbitron sound we’ve come to love with violinist Noah Baum’s frenetic playing and the tight rhythm section. Cynthia Rittenbach adds nice harmonies as well. Quite frankly the band has never sounded better. Energetic and confident, the song is statement. Meara’s deep voice resonates in “Never Seen Central Park” which musically sounds like the best of mid-career REM. The mid-tempo tune take a punk turn as the song exits. The album starts out with an awesome 1-2 punch.
“Domestic Use (Oh, Nettie!)” is a bright, melodic number that finds Meara pining to move to New Orleans, which he visited last year, to chase love but knowing he won’t as he sings “Won’t you come up and meet me in New Jersey, lord knows I’ll never leave”. To nail the point home he mentions fellow New Jersey native artist Francie Moon. There is a distinct 50s vibe to the slow delightfully slow burning “Swimmer’s Ear” down to the vocal sha-la-la-las.
One of the standout tracks is the glorious “Condoms In My Leather Jacket”. The song has many different musical styles and I love the way it plays with tempo. The lyrics eviscerate contemporary consumerism and culture with the opening lines “I don’t wanna put my kid on a leash, stroll around the mall where the brand new hair cuts meet”. The addition of the wonderful organ and piano add a funky element to the song as well. And talk about funky is that a Prince reference with “baby baby baby baby baby ima be a star?” Outstanding.
The fuzz box guitar sound of “Rain Jawn” and Dylanesque “Swallow” are heavier numbers that allow Meara to get in touch with his bluesy side. Anyone with student loans now working in a menial or boring job can relate to “Mom look what I did, hey dad, look what I did, I wasted my youth and I wasted your money too” in “Fuck College”. The somber “Pastoral” takes us to the end but offers the slightest hint of optimism with “surprise yourself alive the day, you find the silver threads amongst the mold”.
Last week I listened to this album while walking around downtown Manhattan. Even though I wouldn’t call Girls’ Boyfriends a typical “New York album” it sounded weirdly perfect given the city streets that rainy afternoon. Much like New York City the album is tough, challenging, varied and exciting. Something new around each corner. In a word, glorious. Conor Meara and Roy Orbitron are hitting a creative peak. I have a feeling they are gonna stay there for a while.
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