Do You Like Me?
Ugly Boys = Prince + Carly Rae Jepsen + Neon Indian
The music of Ugly Boys is anything but aesthetically displeasing, as their name might suggest. All traces of ugliness are discarded in favor of tight funk performances, glossy production and a cheeky, fun-loving attitude. Their new EP, Do You Like Me?, brings together five tracks of poppy R&B that showcase both the musical skill and conceptual specificity of Ugly Boys. The catchiest tracks, like “Met You At a Party” with Strange Familia or “Mood Ring,” are pure joy. The latter, with its ascending “oohs” and infectious chorus, is the best example of the pop potential of this group.
The most apparent strength of this EP is that Ugly Boys are a group exploding with personality, an aspect even more evident in their live show than on record. They trade off lead vocals like a proper boy band, wear matching outfits onstage and unashamedly flaunt their woes concerning party hookups and relationship troubles. There’s a glee to every pristine vocal performance, even if the songs delve into lyrical darkness. “Babe Don’t,” one of the EP’s finest, laments a deteriorating romance. Instead of wallowing in gloomy sorrow, Ugly Boys’ vibrant music gives the track a hopeful edge, where the promise of a better life ahead outweighs the momentary displeasure.
The only quality slippage on Do You Like Me? is that the Ugly Boys haven’t yet found enough variety in their limited sound. This style of slick, mellow funk comes with a certain set of restrictions with regard to time signatures, tempos and instrumental timbres, but the best of these musicians find room for nuance. Whether through exploration of different subdivisions, a greater sonic palette or less restrictive stylistic guidelines, a little more differentiation between each track would better serve Ugly Boys’ golden hooks and vocal performances. Still, tracks like “Babe Don’t” and “Mood Ring” are pop gems that never tire, and this EP shows nothing but promise for Ugly Boys. Head to their website, someuglyboys.com, for more info about upcoming music, shows and more. –Connor Lockie