Review: Butcher Boy – React or Die

It’s an exciting time for Scottish music. Camera Obscura are set to release fourth full length My Maudlin Career, Kris Drever, John McCusker and Roddy Woomble have joined forces to form a folk behemoth, and now relative newcomers Butcher Boy are on the verge of releasing their second album React Or Die.

Here literate, poetic lyrics meet imaginative, eclectic arrangement and – most importantly – thoroughly good pop tunes. At just half an hour, there’s no room for filler on this album. The jangly orchestration and soft delivery of opener When I’m Asleep jars enticingly with the repeated lyric “When I’m asleep/I never dream/I never feel anything”. The fantastic single Carve a Pattern (available for free download – click here) has driving piano chords and percussive vocals that defy toes not to tap. And bittersweet This Kiss Will Marry Us oozes romance with mellifluous cello, and the sound of the seaside. With lines like “you’re far too beautiful and kind for these times” songwriter John Blain Hunt echoes Donovan’s Vincent before turning its on its head with “you’re far too gullible you’re blind to these times”.

Handclaps, twee guitars and Scottish accents inevitably invite comparisons with Belle and Sebastian – indeed the band count Stuart Murdoch among their fans. The likeness is not inconsiderable, but Butcher Boy are no tribute act and React or Die‘s subtley layered songs and wry yet keenly felt lyrics make it a worthy successor to their excellent 2007 debut Profit in Your Poetry.

Words: Lynn Roberts

Butcher Boy are playing on Saturday March 14th at Jamm, 261 Brixton Road, London, SW2, 7.30pm-10.30pm

React or Die is out on 6th April, advance copies can be bought from record label How Does It Feel To Be Loved’s website

You can buy Butcher Boy’s first album Profit in Your Poetry from Amazon now