Baby Boys: The Freaks Come Out at Night

photo credit: Graham Tolbert

It’s only fitting that Caleb Hinz and Jake Luppen, two-thirds of the Saint Paul, Minn., pop-eccentrics Baby Boys, met in 10th grade chemistry class. On the trio’s debut LP, Threesome, their music—which splices ecstatic vocal loops, blown-out percussion, electronic bleeps and bloops, tropical guitars and stuttering found-sounds—explodes like a science experiment. But Baby Boys don’t blow their own eyebrows off; instead, they’ve somehow already made one of the most oddly appealing and blindingly creative albums of the year. When the high-school pals and Nathan Stocker launched Baby Boys in 2018, years after their last class, they were immediately ready to explore the blurry fringes of pop. “In the early stages, we wouldn’t meet up until midnight and then we’d work until 5 or 6 in the morning,” Luppen says. “The freaks come out at night.” Hinz describes their process as, “jumping into a tornado until the sun comes up.” All three Baby Boys are producers and multi-instrumentalists; they often base their sound collages on melodies initially captured on their iPhones and have been known to record gang vocals by singing into a single microphone. “The iPhone is one of the instruments we utilize the most,” Stocker admits. “Lots of voice memos.” The finished songs, though, are anything but lo-fi. Threesome’s 10 tracks buzz with energy and overflow with loose ideas that have been shaped into genuinely catchy, eminently hummable freak-pop nuggets. Like The Books or Dan Deacon before them, Baby Boys are all about the layers—stacking disparate sounds into thick layers until they lock in and complement each other. On “Backgammon,” they pile ratatat electronic pulses and stinging static atop a meditative acoustic guitar loop, with a vocal melody hovering above it all. From their absurdist lyrics to their album art (all three tonguing a microphone), Baby Boys insist that lightness is the key. The video for the band’s first single “Cannonball” follows an elderly, bearded rollerblader skate-dancing through the suburbs. “Humor is a beautiful thing,” Luppen says. “In all the other projects we’ve worked on, it’s always felt very life or death. It was a dream to work on something that was only life.” To Hinz, Baby Boys boils down to three friends asking: How far can we take this? “I hope that fellow creators and musicians get inspired to break their own rules,” he says. “And I hope that [Threesome] sets an example for how far things can be pushed.”

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