Since boylife released peas in 2020, I’ve been in love and waiting for the full album. When I saw that gelato was out, I dragged myself from the depths of pre-pneumatic fatigue to listen, fall further in love, and to write an album review.

Because I can’t wait: everyone NEEDS to listen to this album. It’s the first album I’ve heard in years where I listened and was properly like, holy shit, this is so fucking good. Every single track is seamless and unique and so well done, you can tell this is a meticulous project by an artist with a singular spirit and capacity for making music no one else can. The amount of vibes boylife condenses into one album is insane: blast-in-the-club bangers pieced from noises that no one else would dare use (that somehow also comment on his racial identity in America), unbelievably smooth and layered R&B that makes you feel molasses inside, gorgeously produced and paced sad teen acoustic, dijon-rock-n-roll garageband-type songs except somehow better, INDUSTRIAL GOSPEL! INDUSTRIAL GOSPEL! The man invents his own genres.

And not only is his range incredible in terms of sound, the album is thematically/tonally diverse but manages to come back to common threads and a common identity: it’s alternately braggadocious and bold and punch-you-in-the-face-cool, and also defensive and insecure and needy, tender and consumed by questions of love and mental illness and friendship and loss and change and what it means to leave a past and a family behind.

If it was possible to be in love with someone because of the music they make, I’d be in love with boylife.

I hesitate to break it down track-by-track because it’s so gorgeous that it’s just going to be raving about music I don’t even know how to describe, but I want to talk about the album more, so! (A good # of tracks have been out for a while, so I’ll talk about them less, but everything is just heartrending devastation.)


The second this song kicked in, I was healed. The melody, the harmonized production on his voice, how he makes guitar sound so expansive and atmospheric, the LAYERS! “Hey Gelato, I’ve been loving you violently, it’s more than I can swallow. When you leave me, you leave me hollow.” The way his voice dips down so low on “violently” to the point where you aren’t sure what he’s saying is so satisfying and tender to listen to. We need to call everyone we love Gelato. The rhymes are so sweet and obvious but somehow not, and I love it. It fills you with feeling, and no one does it like this.


Another track that’s been out for over a year, though the album version he’s included a short outtro that isn’t in the single. I could write ODES to this song. There is literally nothing else like it in the game. The pitched-up harmonization that hits like a bolt of lightning in and out, it’s stunning and it demands your attention and you feel every single one of your demons exiting your body when it strikes. It’s like a gospel but run through a scrap-metal CD-scratch junkyard, There’s also a quiet soft interlude where you can see his raw mourning for a family mired in a church he wanted to hold onto but couldn’t (“I wanted to stay here / I love you to death, but I won’t make my grave here”), followed by an ecstatic burst into sound that is not so much joy as a violent catharsis, his quiet repetition as the pitched-up harmonies and metallic shards and distortion flood in (“don’t make me go back to the church”), enthralling, devastating, and the man INVENTED his own genre (INDUSTRIAL gospel). On the album version, he’s included at the end a small tag of someone speaking (I believe?) Korean.


This song was how boylife introduced himself to the world, and everyone’s heard it. It needs no introduction, and in fact, it’s been written about before on this very blog. It’s pure beauty.


Another version of this song has been out for a while, too. It starts out as a beautiful acoustic dream of the past. The guitar riffs are just sound so, so good. The clapping beat that stutters throughout the entire song, too. Compared to other tracks on the album, dio is more spare, more stripped down—and because we’ve seen how all-out innovation boylife can go with the production, it’s a testament to his knowledge of how to create an album with narrative and complexity. Sometimes it’s as simple as, “I’ve been dreaming of your back, won’t you come and take me back now?” The album version includes a Bearface feature that’s not in the original, and the feature largely keeps the same melody and lyrics, but notches up the intensity as the song closes out, and has a trippy-reverbed out ending, boylife suddenly cutting in, “Okay”—like the dream is ending. It’s brilliant.

Also, not to get all literary analysis on the song, but since other songs on the album address the severance of a narrator from a church, I think this song gets so interesting, because he’s chosen to call the character this song is addressed to “dio.” And so you get this language that describes a lover: “I’ve been dreaming of your neck, kissing on you til we wake and let the dawn out.” But then when he sings, “Won’t you come and take me back?” You’re like, wait, maybe is he talking about a relationship with God and a past that he sometimes gets nostalgic for as much as it can never be recovered? Just generally the conflation of religious imagery and love is so interesting to me.


Released without the skit at the end as a single originally, boylife called this an ode to women who are dominant in bed which, if there was anything to write an ode to in this world, that’d be it. The lyrics are just dope: “You got it, hey, you got it… You’ve got control my amphetamines.” That’s a really good way to tell someone you love them and want to fuck them, at least in my book. The twinkling in the instrumentals, the steady clap rhythm almost lulling you back forth. And it just sounds so, so good, so unlike everyone else’s music, and yet also somehow impossibly catchy. It’s a summer night of a song and I love it.


Also another one that’s been out for ages! Also written about before on the blog, but I want to write about it again. I love how this song starts out like a cinematic flood of synth and pinao, and you think this could totally open an A24 film, but then at the forty second mark, it all drops away, and a low distorted voice and the beat kicks in. Then it becomes a banger, transitioning seamlessly back and forth between stripped down confessional verses, Brockhampton-esque jump-up-and-down sections filled with power, a chorus of just him scratched out and placed at the distance shouting in, stretched-slow soulful samples. boylife makes a high-pitched “I’ve been feeling bummy!” a call to action. You can also clearly see the direction in the music, to define his identity in the landscape: “Young BL, new Jean-Michel, glowing in that yellow skin, new classic American.” There’s honestly just too much in this song to describe—he just doesn’t make music like anyone else.


Putting lush2 before lush in the track listing is bold move, and I love it. lush2 starts off with the exclamation “Lush!”, and pretty soon the feelings kick in and it’s beautiful: “I’ve been off my meds / I really wanna try / Thinking about my parents makes me cry / I ain’t been to church in two or three years / but right hand up like God if you hear me now.” Production-wise, it’s very Blonde-era Frank-Ocean-esque, the alternation between voices at higher and lower pitches, the spare, “underwaterified” Justice Der type guitar. It feels like a hallucinogenic, drunken conversation when you’re in the pits, it’s raw, seamlessly produced, and the touch of police sirens is genius, too. This man never fails.

superpretty (which comes with a gorgeously colored music video)

This man made an insane track about his experience of race in america that you can somehow also get hpyed to? boylife combines his signature distorted industrial sounds with a the classic summertime-teen upbeat melody for a effect that’s just amazing. “Bitch, I’m a star and I’m super super pretty”—by the time we get to this line, the song makes me want to jump up down like I’m on coke or some shit. “I take your man because I feel like it, give him back cause I feel like it”—you just get so hyped listening to that like, go off king, take someone’s man. The rhythm, the distortions, the insane rises of the synths and distortion and noise into the shouted chorus is amazing.

superpretty music video

Side note: I heard one of the lines as “I got Pad See Ew with the extra pork” but genius says, “I got backseat you with the extra Porsche.” I think the second line is way lamer, the first version delighted me. (Update from boylife himsef: I heard it right the first time :))

lush (also has a beautiful music video)

Also been out for a minute and I’ve loved it from the start. So rich, so honeyed, so smooth. “I’ll come inside of you”—genius opening line. It catalogues a journey from plaintive to acceptance and admittance of wrong, a bittersweet farewell to someone you love who has to leave you. The language is so, so good. “If you want to see new waters, why can’t I come, too?” “Some days I get depressed, some nights I get possessive, just I’ve never been so close to anyone, and since I couldn’t say don’t leave, I hope the future you prepare, and the dreams you couldn’t share come true.” It breaks your heart, man, it really does.


BEAUTIFUL. That signature guitar, the singing and songwriting that goes straight to the heart of feeling. “Play your favorite song a hundred times, we could leave LA and start again, fuck the beemers and the sunset, watch me screaming out a hundred times, play your favorite back a hundred times”—look at how that verse loops back around. When he sings, “Hush me baby, I’m a mess”—amazing! I am running out of adjectives for how good this music is. “Hey hoon, I’m always thinking about you”—the plain earnestness in that confession, just, wow.

When we move into the feature with cehryl, it becomes a duet, still so tender. “Do you wanna dance before we pretend we’ve moved on?” and boylife’s callback: “Hey hoon, I wouldn’t hesitate for you.” Is an incredible ending to a song, narratively and sonically. There’s also a skit appended after that which is sweet, but I don’t think is strictly necessary.

I also looked up the word hoon, which apparently in Australia/NZ is someone who drives a car deliberately recklessly, usually to get a reaction.

Kind of a genius word to use.


At it’s bones, baddreams is a piano ballad, but boylife could never just do a typical, simple piano ballad. He tosses in a plain and confessional voice with a slight double layering, scattered distortions, the piano rises and those IMPOSSIBLY cinematic and wistful and golden-past-in-the-garden synth-symphony-strings. The song is filled with an age-old longing, but feels new, fresh, modern, soomething no one else could make.

“Cause nobody touch me like you used to / cause nobody fuck me like you used to,”—man, that main refrain is just so heartbreaking. “I’m like clay in your hands, I melt away in your hands.” When the song crescendos into a rapid pitched up yell, you get a moment of catharsis, and then immediately the song quiets back down to the speaker’s acknowledgement that he’s not wanted, you realize that boylife isn’t just a master of production and songwriting—he’s a master of emotions. He’s just an artist in the truest sense of the world, he knows how to manage love and drama and tragedy and catharsis. His songs are like an extremely well-written story; the craft is impeccable.



I mean, the thing about boylife is that no one makes music like him. The production, the songwriting, the themes and the images, the range he can cover and how he refuses to be defined by genre. He declares in superpretty, “I wanna be the best of all time,” and you can see that ambition and that execution in the album. Every bit of this album is beautiful, and you never get bored of the beauty either, because he’s got so many different kinds. He switches it up with different songs while obviously retaining his distinct personality, and because the song structures and instrumentals and how he uses them, it’s just so so different from everyone else is doing. ‘gelato’ is an album full of “best-song-I’ve-ever-heard”s, all made by one man. Insane, incomparable, indescribable, irreproducible.

A top 10 album of all time, for me. I have interpreted its release as a sign from the universe to let myself be eaten alive by love. If you don’t listen, you’re missing out.