This may be the perfect antidote to the maelstrom of uncertainty and contradiction of current everything; London four-piece Tugboat Captain have fashioned a complex and upbeat compendium of rewarding sounds.
Like many of the tracks opener ‘Check Ur Health’ draws on a range of sixties sources with a touch of prog-folk detachment in the lyrical delivery and the unpredictable instrumentation. There are later Beatles influences too, emphasised by the band’s insistence that the disc was recorded secretly at Abbey Road when there was spare time available.
The prescient ‘No Plans (For This Year)’ was finished a while ago, bringing in brass and strings to add emphasis to the vocal lines, driven by a neat piano break. ‘C’mon! Haribo?’ is frenetic fun while ‘Downward Slope’ is a punchy minute and a half. ‘Come Dig Me Out’ lopes along with extra acoustic guitar flourishes before diverting into many different sections and a steadily building entourage of extra instruments and voices (the LP credits 35+ players, singers and helpers…).
And there is much much more to hear as the later tracks open up the studio opportunities with brass, strings, woodwind and ever-changing musical dynamics.
It is an album of depth and colour, every track immaculately constructed but still retaining an underlying anarchy and looseness that create welcome undulations in the polished veneer.
This debut long-player is summed up by Tugboat Captain themselves, ‘….the band have now pushed on, beyond being solely a DIY indie-pop band, leaving lo-fi behind in search of transcendence through pure pop…..’