Winnipeg indie poppers Boats made the jump to the big(ger) leagues in 2011, teaming with Kill Rock Stars for a stateside release of their Canadian-lauded Cannonballs, Cannonballs. Two years later, Mat Klachefsky and Co. return with their first new disc for American audiences, and A Fairway Full of Miners follows-up on the hyperactive, ramshackle promise. Anybody can write press release notes about “girls, glowing bears, and escaping the spectral plane of existence and reappearing at a football game,” but it takes a rare breed of pop hummingbird to deliver precisely that.
“The nurses will gather and laugh at the animated GIFs,” Klachefsky intones over buzzing synth on “Animated GIFs”, the album’s very first line giving an apt idea of what kind of silly business is to come. A baritone chorus responds, though, delivering the bad news that “all your friends will turn to shit.” The tune goes on to reference ghosts and Sherpas (among other things), all with Klachefsky nasally leading the way over marching band horns, glockenspiel tinkles, and more of that Skittles-y retro synth. Later, “O Telescope” finds the vocalist honking and squealing over an infectious bass groove, and the melodica on “We Got Pillows and Blankets” finds the twee soft spot.
A Fairway Full of Miners delivers caffeinated epic heights track after track, like the nerdy cousins of fist-pumping pop bands like Los Campesinos! or Architecture in Helsinki. Even at their lower gears (“Advice On Bears”, “Advice on Bioluminescent Bears”), Boats throw enough double-take inducing lines and squiggly guitar hooks that you won’t notice the Vespa has slowed. And then they fill the tank with Pixy Stix, tip the kickstand, and rocket off into the busy night. Ashley Roch takes a turn at the mic on “Busy Legs”, bubbling rocket exhaust sound effects overpowering a rare soft counterpoint. Sometimes too much is super exciting, and sometimes too much is just a little too much.
Essential Tracks: “Animated GIFs”, “O Telescope”