Tess Clare Brings Herself to the Forefront on “Never Be A Boy”

Kieran Kohorst

It’s a tough balance to strike – inflicting enough of yourself into a song to feel present and vulnerable, while also trying to maintain universal relatability to listeners. On her new single “Never Be A Boy,” indie pop’s Tess Clare disregards her concern for remaining relatable, instead prioritizing her own narrative: one of realized queerness and protective affection. A reflection on her relationship with her childhood best friend, “Never Be A Boy” wears its heart on its sleeve: “Sleeping inches from your face / Thinking things that I don’t say / We joke about just running away,” she reminisces, her voice tinged with regretful nostalgia. While her attraction may be evident in this setting, it wasn’t so at the time, leading to Clare holding some resentment towards those stealing her friend’s attention. “I wish you didn’t talk about boys so much,” she finally unleashes on the chorus, “Cause they’re breaking your heart and I hate their guts / Too bad I could never be a boy.” The framing Clare uses of wanting to switch roles to not only treat her friend better, but also be an object of her attraction, is the work of a songwriting veteran and is the most impressive feat amongst her writing on the track.

Choosing to center herself does not mean that listenership is abandoned, however. Clare takes advantage of the flexibility in her voice, using different deliveries and tones to more fully realize the story at hand. The production is not overly brash but instead positioned to support Clare, popping at just the right times but never distracting from her presence. The thoughtfulness and care evident in the song’s writing bleeds into all other aspects, accumulating into one of Tess Clare’s most well-rounded recordings to date. More aware of herself now more than ever, there’s little doubt that new highs are just on the horizon.

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