Prosthetic Boombox
by Cola Boyy

There’s liberation on the dance floor in the songs of Matthew Urango – glimpses of revolution that glimmer beneath the disco ball. “I want my music to bring people together,” says the Californian pop innovator, best known as Cola Boyy. “Because standing together is our best chance at fighting this shit show.” The shit show in question is a broken, brutal system the acclaimed multi-instrumentalist has witnessed up-close. Urango was born with spina bifida and scoliosis in Oxnard, California: a town in which almost 30,000 are estimated to live in poverty. Prosthetic Boombox, his eagerly awaited debut album, might at first glance seem a joyous confetti-burst of pop eclecticism, engineered to sound like “scanning between stations on a car radio, landing on all these different sounds and styles” as Urango puts it. Dig deeper, though, and you’ll discover a simmering sense of rebellion. “The working class are injured, struggling to pay rent and struggling to put food on the table,” he says. “I want to represent that.” Prosthetic Boombox achieves that goal in a thrilling flurry of inventive indie, funk and soul: take Urango’s car radio analogy, place it in a time-travelling Delorean with Prince in the passenger seat, and you’re half-way there.

Look no closer than Prosthetic Boombox’s euphoric opener, the Avalanches-assisted ‘Don’t Forget Your Neighborhood.’ The track – which Urango says mixes “the Beach Boys, French disco, house keys and ragtime piano, kinda like the Cheers soundtrack!” – ends with lyrics urging listeners to “fight for your town with your fist closed, strike it and make it more than just a memory.” It’s a reminder that the working classes need to “turn our fists against our oppressors instead of each other,” he explains. After that emphatic introduction comes a horn-laced funk wig-out titled ‘Mailbox’ – a song that gives Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia a run for its Studio 54-themed money, featuring rising Londoner JGrrey. Elsewhere, ‘Song For The Mister’ ventures into smooth R&B territory, before ‘Roses’ – a collaboration with Myd of Ed Banger fame – offers a bouquet of bustling disco guitars and Infinite Bisous of Connan Mockasin’s band drops in on the immaculate ‘Go The Mile’. Urango saves his most introspective moment for the album’s starry closer. ‘Kid Born In Space’, a cosmic collaboration with MGMT frontman Andrew VanWyngarden, sees the artist reflect on what he once had to overcome as a disabled person of colour. “I see them looking down on my dreams of being,” he sings tenderly. “I hear them making fun of my voice, but I keep on moving forward, I refuse to live in anyone else’s shadow.” Prosthetic Boombox, on this subject, is more than an album title – it’s a statement of intent.

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Rien ne s'est jamais passé normalement pour Cola Boyy: une voix d'enfant dans un corps à part, un talent hors normes et un parcours improbable. Né avec un lourd handicap, Matthew Urango, alias Cola Boyy, grandit à Oxnard (la ville d'Anderson.Paak et Madlib) et s'essaie au punk avant de choisir d'écrire ses propres morceaux disco pop rayonnants.

Repéré par le label français Record Makers (maison de Sébastien Tellier, Kavinsky...) qui voit en lui un auteur-compositeur à contre-courant des stéréotypes pop, le californien signe son premier contrat et sort son premier EP Black Boogie Neon en 2018, qui inclut son tube Penny Girl. Il passe en deux ans d'une petite scène DIY de Los Angeles aux premières parties de MGMT, est invité au Pitchfork Music Festival Paris puis à Coachella (le fondateur Paul Tollett mettra un point d'honneur à assister au set du petit prodige).

Pourquoi, comment ? D'abord pour ses talents de songwriter et sa délicieuse compagnie qui font de Cola Boyy l'artiste coup de coeur de nos musiciens préférés. Et parce qu'il séduit au-delà de toute chapelle, l'artiste parvient à fédérer autour de lui le casting transatlantique le plus dingue de l'année : d'un côté MGMT et les Australiens de The Avalanches, John Carroll Kirby (Solange, Blood Orange) et infinite bisous (musicien protégé de Connan Mockasin) ; de l'autre côté les Français Nicolas Godin (AIR) et Pierre Rousseau (oiseau solo de Paradis), le poulain d'Ed Banger MYD et Bon Voyage Organisation (artisan du renouveau French disco du XXIe siècle). Tous réunis autour de Cola Boyy.

Résultat : ce Prosthetic Boombox, premier album en forme de ghetto-blaster coloré, melting-pot d'influences qui vont de Paul McCartney (période Wings) à Kanye West en passant par Harry Nilsson et Chaka Khan. On pense aux albums de kid soul, ces enfants-chanteurs poussés par la Motown au tournant des 70's et du succès des Jackson Five. On passe d'un latin-funk chargé de breaks terribles à une balade délicieuse, puis un disco funk aigre-doux avec toujours cette idée maîtresse : la légèreté fluide et les mots de la vraie vie d'un jeune californien très remonté.

Tracklist

1. Don't Forget Your Neighborhood 
2. Mailbox
3. Song for the Mister
4. Roses
5. For the Last Time
6. You Can Do It
7. Mink
8. One of These Winters Will Take Me
9. Go the Mile
10. Kid Born in Space

Label : Record Makers 

LP CD 2021
€20,00
VAT excl. €16,67