It’s been a while since we checked in on the quirky synth poppers from Winnipeg. Boats! made an appearance on our Manitoba Mixtape and Mat’s awesomely named debut (Intercontinental Champ - of which Ricky Steamboat was the all-time great) was a pleasant discovery to say the least. Well, since that time it seems they’ve dropped the ! and that decision corresponds with a more mature outlook and sound.
The band still displays some Unicorns-ish whimsy, kinetic energy and quirky, discount bin synth sounds - Drinking The Lake and Movie Scores; We Hummed for example - but Cannonballs, Cannonballs! finds Mat exploring more complex narratives and the band using bigger textures and taking some risks. I’m not sure if I could have predicted Mat and his rotating cast of characters crafting a beautiful electro pop gem like Smokestack & Lucy’s Magnificent Cabaret last time out, but it’s one of many highlights on the new record.
Interestingly enough, when their last record came out I remember Dave Ullrich saying that Boats was like Arcade Fire without the drama. At the time I thought he was off his rocker, but now the comparison seems very fitting. As I let TV Scientist fade into the heavier drums of Summercamp vs. The Fake Moustache Tree, feel the thump of Chrome Eyelids or settle into the catchy Our Athletic Friends I get swept up in the potential of this young Winnipeg outfit. CBCB! is only their second album, but they put together twelve songs that are powerful, but never attempt to be bigger than the instruments they use or the sounds they prefer. They don’t throw on layer after layer hoping to impress you; Boats lets you feel like you are a part of the song, and slowly builds to a climax after hooking you in early. Plus, at the end of the day I don’t think they’d ever steal my basketball.