Review: Drunken Boat – Tie The KnotsTweet
Dublin based post-rockers Drunken Boat have been progressively gathering band members with each of their nautically named albums. 2007 saw the release of guitar and synth project ‘Cut The Engines, Raise The Sails’, the band then evolving, or depending on your viewpoint, regressing, into a noise-folk duo for ‘Plumb The Depths’ two years later. A heavier sound and an extra body followed in 2010 with ‘Concrete Canyons’, and now the band have – dare I say – settled as a four-headed entity on ‘Tie The Knots’, probably their most cohesive and mature record to date. Partly dependent on the kindness of strangers (and friends), the band raised some of the cash for the album through Fundit, an increasingly common endeavour. Rest easy, all of you who contributed to the making of this understated and modestly refined collection of songs; your donation has been put to good use.
‘Tie The Knots‘ is an album in thrall to a legacy of post-rock and indie past, itself exploring themes of bittersweet remembrance and raw heartbreak. Despite the melancholic nature of these songs, there is a casual airiness in their structure, an uncluttered mingling of guitar and drums interspersed with subtle violin. Opener Breathe, with its dreamy “Breathe deep and slow” refrain eases the listener gently into the album before building up to a powerful crescendo, the calm before the storm. Proceedings move from languid to loud with ease throughout; on Remember, guitar notes drop softly and effortlessly into place as the song gently surges, while on Lasso the stirring instrumental section breaks out from the quieter picked guitar work of the verses, pushing harder and becoming incrementally noisier.
Natural State is the closest thing the album has to a no-nonsense rocker, and it’s a good one, with the singer claiming “Underneath the edges there lies perfection/ A constant battle from this natural state.” Then, a sudden break leads into a noise build-up harking back to the opening track. Throughout, the lyrics battle with regret and contradiction -“Some things must keep changing so we can stay the same” in Santiago; broken relationships in Darling - “I have nothing to say to you/ As I walk away/ And then wait for lights to change/ And look for the connection that will bring you to me”; forthright emotion in Indian Summer – “Do you see the effect you’re having/ I quiver with every gesture you make” buoyed by the cymbal crashes that gently push the song along.
The expansive intro of All My Life recalls Baba O’Reilly in reverse, while Talking Heads is a love song of a different nature. It’s an erratic ode to the music you love with its joyous “Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers!” backing vocal, and the vocalist singing “Down cross Gardiner Street/ Been singing to myself been singing to myself/ Shouting ‘I love this song’/Too close to your ear.” That song, on ‘Tied in Knots’, is Think Of Me – everything great about all those ‘80s and ‘90s indie guitar bands that you loved, with its hopelessly yearning but relentlessly uplifting chorus of “Do you think of me at all?” That melody and question ring in the ears long after the album ends, even though you and I aren’t the ones it’s directed at. With this record steeped in familiarity, Drunken Boat have delivered an irresistible collection of aching, yet somehow paradoxically heartening songs, affecting and cathartic in equal measure.