I don’t know what your adolescence sound like to you, but for me, it always sounds a little like a run down lemonade stand in the heat of summer. Acid denim jackets and stolen cigarettes, hawking overly sweet lemonade to all the neighborhood kids riding around in bikes. Sneaking out of your house in socks at 2 in the morning because your degenerate friends found an unfinished open home to sit and drink in. Smoking by the portables. Being kicked out of the Korean restaurant right next to your high school because you were loitering there with your bum friends with 5 dollars of change between the seven of you. And all the while a band like BOAT would be playing as a soundtrack. Out of a shitty boombox in the garage or from the broken car stereo with a blown left speaker.
Sounding like one of those run down garage bands that wouldn’t be out of place in a Pavement cover band contest (and I mean this as a compliment), this Seattle foursome has been on the music scene for a while with 5 full length LPs up their sleeve. Their newest LP Let’s Pretend to be Brave was recently released alongside an album, cutely entitled ‘Pretend to be BOAT’ of the same songs covered by their friends (Throw Me the Statue, Math & Physics Club, The Quite Ones etc.) because what is better about being in a band than being in a band with friends that are also in bands? Their first single Inside the Aquarium bring about the Pavement comparisons immediately with the intro but when the song kicks to high gear, its pure BOAT-mania. A desperate, relentless energy that permeates the vocals and that strain to do justice with the knock out melodies. There’s buildups, and payoffs; all sorts of aural roller coasters. And if you’ve been reading my posts for a while, you know how much I love those dang layered harmonics and lo-fi echos.
My other favourite from the new album Interstellar Hellen Keller is maybe the epitome of every good rock song that I love. I love the strangling, jittery guitars. I love the croons. I love the woo-oh-ohs. I love the lyric “I know that change is good and good is good enough“. I love remembering memories that may not have even existed. Because that’s the thing with nostalgia. Soon enough, you don’t know if you’re actually nostalgic for a real period of time, or you’re just the type of person that enjoys living in some vague notion of the past. Since I’ve moved back home, and find myself with an abundance of free time (waiting for people to get back to your CV require very little energy), there’s little to do but revisit old haunts and get wistful. And there’s something about BOAT that only exists in memory. The band excels at creating memories that never even existed. In fact, BOAT isn’t even a band I discovered when I was 16, it just sounds like one. The sloppy, ditsy pop melodies, and all the lyrics that deal with drugs and the fear of death. That sounds like my adolescence to me. The melodies swirling, the lyrics sometimes very dark, but the sounds are always bright. There’s optimism to be had, all the reliving of the good ole’ days, it means that if we didn’t realize it then, we are probably living in them now. Everything is a memory if you look back far enough.
Which is all to say, there’s a slow burn to these songs that are perfect for reliving old memories or making new ones. I’ll leave you all one more song, Last Cans of Paint, a single from when the band first shot on the scene with their debut Songs You Might Not Like back in 2006, a lightning in a bottle sort of period of time for nostalgic millenials to forever sit wistfully about, a time when everything was beautiful and nothing hurt. Indeed.