[20 September 2006]
Ignore the jokey title: you should like Boat, they’re pretty great. The 17 short songs on their debut album flirt with Pavement, the Shins and even Islands but serve up a messy, loose-ends-and-all lo-fi grower. Across it all D. Crane’s voice holds the listener in an easy spell; it cracks at the top of its range, splintering wide on “Last Cans of Paint”, or descends into a cartoonish Muppet impersonation on “March in the Streets!” and “Beast for Hire”. This kookiness isn’t for everyone but it fills Boat’s sound with personality, and that’s more than a lot of indie bands can say these days. Add to the mix a varied, organic/joyful instrumentation and plenty of catchy hooks, and you arrive at something not entirely unlike Tapes ‘n Tapes. This is most keenly felt on “Return of the Rainbow Shoelace”, whose complex, evolving arpeggios echo “Manitoba”—until the “Love Shack” reference totally redeems the song, silly pop turned incomparably angst-filled. Addictive choruses fill the best songs, even if many seem ideas only half-sketched: check out disc highlights “Greased Hairclip” or “The Bar Is Too Low to Fail”. The DIY aesthetic extends even to the artwork, and is charming: a promising start.