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Boris - LφVE & EVφL Music Album Reviews

After nearly breaking up and instead making their best album in years, the once-restless Japanese trio become something new again: self-satisfied.

New Boris albums once offered joyous upheaval and a sense of shock. At their best, and sometimes their worst, they ventured into whatever forms fit their loose-fitting creed of “Heavy Rocks.” Pink, one of the band’s early, essential breakthroughs, moved from the reinvented shoegaze anthem “Farewell” into wild-eyed D-Beat and squalid noise-rock, as if beating a gleeful retreat from perfection. Sure, there have been gimmicks and missteps along the way, but Boris’ restlessness has often been rewarding and contagious.


But it is hard to muster much more than a shrug for LØVE & EVØL, Boris’ double-album debut for Jack White’s Third Man Records. LØVE & EVØL finds Boris at a strange career crossroads—or, rather, just beyond it. Three years ago, they recorded what was meant to be their farewell album but instead stumbled into Dear, their most ecstatic and aggressive LP in years. Boris sounded reborn, their vows renewed. LØVE & EVØL, however, suggests that the euphoria of this second honeymoon has faded. These seven anemic songs find Boris becoming something new yet again—self-satisfied.

They remind us of a lot of their best tricks: Wata’s solos, like the one that leads the lumbering “LOVE” out of its torpor, still streak across these tracks like a rainbow somehow appearing against a moonless night sky—few guitarists sound so rapturous with a trick so simple. And in its ascendant second half, “EVOL” recreates the band’s most disorienting and beautiful effect—the ability to drop down in tempo, key, and distortion and still shoot for the stars, as if the rules of gravity have been temporarily reversed.

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Those little moments of wonder stud songs that, by and large, feel like adult-coloring-book versions of Boris triumphs past. “uzume” is a surging wall of noise, with wave after wave of distortion and drums moving ever inward, but it lacks the wild radiance of their earlier drone experiments. Closer “Shadow of Skulls” lingers in the same space for 12 minutes without shifting into anything heavenly or heavy. It plods ever-onward because Boris don’t know what else to do with it—a fitting end for an album that adds little but another entry into an already-enormous catalogue

The band once served as a generational gateway to the worlds of international psychedelia and doom-adjacent metal. Accessible and enigmatic, they drew you in, making you sort through alternate editions of their records to find the next weird gem. But accessing the world’s musical extremes is easier than it was even a decade ago, with point-and-click access to infinite wormholes. Boris, meanwhile, simply feel staid, a band that missed its best chance to take a bow.


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