Boat Haus - Few Too Many Moons
Released August 2, 2014
By Alex Southey
Newfoundland and Labrador’s own Boat Haus puts out an impressive, dancing debut. With running bass-lines and excited guitar leads, covered in thin distortion, an easy listen and sunny sentiment permeates the album opener, Patron Saints. Nearing its end, the song winds down to a romantic rhythm, with a finale-esque quaint melody.
Steam Swirl incorporates a harder lean on the bass, bringing to the table something close to disco. The swaying guitar and full of life vocals make for an eager song that’s equally pleasing and impressive. To say something is radio-friendly now carries a connotation of selling out, or that that thing belongs to pop. Here, when I say this album is radio-friendly, I mean it in a way that is to say it could appeal to everyone. There’s so much built from the band’s wide-ranging pallet that it forms a colourful collection of genres. Pop, rock, funk, disco, and indie are all represented, often at the same time. Turn Around is a detour. Its first half is entirely comprised of a slide guitar like a long wave and uses chords sparingly, letting the melody hang by itself. The second half reverts to the aura set by the first two songs, Patron Saints and Steam Swirl. The heavy use of keyboards recalls the best of Eighties pop and its revival kin in the mid-2000s, such as The Killers, Bloc Party, and aspects of Franz Ferdinand. An electric guitar like lightning, raked and palm-muted, makes Clockwork Love pop more than it normally would, with its lackluster vocals. A rare dip on an otherwise great album.
The second half of the album kicks off with Lose Sight, using atmospheric guitar tunes and faraway vocals, which cover feeling uncomfortable in a familiar town. It’s an easy listen, but in a different way from the happy pop rock, disco feel of the former half. High Street Hustle plays around with a country-style rhythm, the rhythm balancing itself between picked notes and strummed chords. Stereo vocals sing happily, with a call and return portion. Another detour away from the album’s main sound, and it’s a pleasant one. With lead guitar taking the front seat by the end, High Street Hustle is a highlight. Stuart Highway utilizes the heavy, relaxed tone that comes with playing the lower strings on a clean guitar. Vocals hang focused and remain tapped at the same speed as the guitar with a rare symbol crash and simple beat underlying the song. This song encapsulates the quiet that comes over the second half of the album. Bonafide Fame opens with a rhythm like a Sonic Youth song, in both guitar and drums. Clearly taking an influence from the late eighties sort of anti-rock, the lead guitar picks along happily dissonant riff with gems of notes. The group-vocal aesthetic the band has used in recording really lends itself to the genre this song exists in.
Take Pause and Bend To Your Learning, regrettably, come off as too much of the same—maybe this is just because they are played one after the other. If Take Pause was tucked in between Lose Sight and High Street Hustle, the difference in style between all three songs would bring each to a higher level, reverting back to the first half of the album’s disco pump style.
All in all, the album’s fuzz guitar, unique vocals, and here-and-there recording tactics make it a great listen.