Quite why this band hasn’t yet ‘broken’ (should that be what they want to do, and judging by the production on Dear Darkly it is), is a mystery only explained by their lack of an out-front vocalist. They receive airplay, write crackling pop singles, have a work ethic, create great film clips, have a style that is familiar yet their own, and, most importantly have fresh ideas.
By no means as beholden to the idea of ‘epic’ or ‘expansive’ pop as say Temper Trap, Boat People have, on Dear Darkly, set their sights higher than earlier releases would suggest. While a trajectory is all well and good, and the natural development of a band can take a more polished path to questionable ends, The Boat People have integrity coming out their ears and this proves to be their finest album yet. Tracks like Dance To My Pain, single Soporific and the frankly unhinged Echo Stick Guitars suggest that live shows will be getting even better and the band now want you to move as well as appreciate.
While mixing their Go-Betweens indie sounds with a bit of Midnight Juggernauts beats may cause some to wrinkle their nose, Boat People make it seem like the best idea they could have had. Under the Ocean is all headlong guitar slashes and near shoegaze-submerged vocals. This is perfect for those who like their Triple J-rock and lose interest with bands like Ghostwood or Three Month Sunset. Songs like Antidote and Damn Defensive are surely just weeks away from getting sweet repositioning to a TV show or film and going totally nova.
There is an ambition on Dear Darkly that is likely to surprise those who have been following the band, and it doesn’t sound like an affectation or adoption. Given the tightness and confidence from a band with a stable lineup and on their third album, there is every reason to believe that things can only get better, though it’s hard to see how the scope and songwriting can beat Dear Darkly.