Tugboat

All Day

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AllMusic Review by

The Australian trio Tugboat has identifiable roots, to be sure. The name of the band likely comes from the great Galaxie 500 song of that name; guitarist/vocalist James Dean has a lovely, fragile voice that suggests such fine bands as the Dentists or early Pale Saints; and the at-once sprightly and melancholy chime of many songs calls to mind such fellow Aussies as the Cat's Miaow and the Cannanes. The Sugargliders, the Field Mice, and many others could be considered as well. Where All Day gets really special is in the details, as when Dean kicks in with a lovely distorted guitar solo on the opening track, "Next Year's Words." It's as good a sign as any that Tugboat isn't out simply to create enjoyable enough indie rock, but to add a little individual bite. Bek Varcoe's drumming adds some rough and ready finery, but her quite fine singing with Dean and on her own is just as important. Consider the blend of their vocals on "Self-Same," an understated, slow burn of a number, heavily reverbed guitar suggesting a bit of shoegaze dream while Dean and Varcoe's performances rise beautifully through the mix, or her great turn on the quietly majestic "So Cold Inside," one of All Day's standouts. Producer Richard Andrew keeps the feel of the album just right, with a touch of dreamy and dark haze on songs like "The Sky Is Falling (Travelling Song)" and "If I Have My Way," All Day's most dramatic, almost doomy moment, helped out by occasional guest turns on strings and horns. And even if the prospect of a sensitive turn-of-the-millennium band covering Stephin Merritt feels as distinctly unsurprising as the Pope announcing to the world that he is in fact Catholic, the rendition of "Love Goes Home to Paris in the Spring" adds to the list of remakes with style.