We learned from Laura Reed’s 2014 debut LP, The Awakening, that the Triangle-based singer-songwriter could nail anything within the soul, pop, and R&B range. However, no one could have anticipated that she’d give a throwback genre like eighties disco funk a go, which is what we have on “Wear and Tear,” the new single from Raleigh’s chief party funkster, Boulevards, which features Reed on supporting vocals.
For Boulevards and the jam’s producer, Rollergirl, the track’s vintage feel falls right in line with some of their previous work together, such as “Move and Shout” from last year’s Groove! LP. And while their chemistry calls for Boulevards to always be the star of the song, it’s not a very duet-friendly habit, which might explain why we only hear Reed’s potent voice in sporadic stretches of background vocal runs, rather than front-and-center for even a verse or a bridge. Because if the song is about love running its course and one party getting casually curved—no matter how trifling or true the romance was—relationship-ending drama like that shouldn’t be sung about so lopsidedly. If we’re going to do this disco-duet-ballad thing, let’s maximize it and hear both sides of the story while we boogie.
Still, “Wear and Tear” is a win for Boulevards, if only because he may have stepped out of his revivalist funk bubble and found a collaborator who can boost his material’s vocal stock. Also, you’ll notice that the music video, which was shot on VHS tape and may even remind you of a setup to a scene in one of your dad’s vintage porn flicks, was filmed at various locations in Durham. Too bad, Raleigh. Stylistically, Boulevards and Raleigh have never seemed like a great fit for each other, and Durham has a deeper musical relationship with the funk. Plus, haven’t you read about everyone calling the Bull City everything short of a “funky little city?” We want the funk. We got to have that funk. In the Triangle-wide musician trade, the Durhamite delegation will take Boulevards. Thank you, Raleigh.