Boyskout: Danceable Melancholy

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When Leslie Satterfield started Boyskout in 2001 she had something to prove. After working on a quiet, moody solo project (Cat Power’s What Would the Community Think was a major influence) she was determined to show people that her sound could be, well, tougher. Three years later, the band’s debut LP, School of Etiquette, put the exclamation point at the end of Satterfield’s declaration.

Boyskout’s brand of dreamy, danceable melancholia is a whirr of guitars and dark synth keys led by Satterfield’s breathy vocals; her voice is equal parts plaintive and spry, mirroring the irresistible push/pull of personal relationships laid out in her lyrics. Some listeners have labeled it another copycat of The Cure or Suicide, but Boyskout sets itself apart from the recent rash of hybrid new/no wave bands with strong musicianship and a complete lack of pretension that comes with a genuine love of music. Take Satterfield’s current source of excitement–the band’s new keyboard, which comes equipped with the eerie Wurlitzer sound she loves. “I really feel drawn to kind of a haunting sound,” Satterfield says. “That would be the thing that is at the center of every single song that I write. It’s just what I think is beautiful.”

After a brief but successful stint in New York City, a couple of years worth of line-up changes, and a national tour, Satterfield is back home in San Francisco with the steady crew of Zola Goodrich on keys and guitar, Piper Lewine on bass, and various rotating members on drums. Boyskout’s new songs sound even stronger (if not as tough) and buzz with a lush, melodic wall of noise from Satterfield’s guitar, evidence of her strengthened style and long-time appreciation of tripped-out troubadour Syd Barrett. “I think it’s just a really natural thing to come back to having the songs be a little more chill,” she says. “Maybe I’m putting more of myself into the songs this time–just more of who I really am.”

In the meantime, the band is steadily honing tracks for its follow-up LP and looking forward to playing this month’s SXSW. “People always tell me the more I show of myself the better it is anyway,” Satterfield says. So far, so good.