Not to be confused with the electronic group the Boats, or Boat, the lo-fi indie rock trio, Winnipeg’s Boats draw from their new Kill Rock Stars labelmates the Decemberists for inspiration, and, like their counterparts, they fill folky singalongs and chamber pop shanties with high drama and bombastic instrumentation. Cannonballs, Cannonballs is a predictably indulgent production, and the open space around the quartet is packed with keyboards, trumpets, trombones, and a full choir. But the wildest part about their music is that Mat Klachefsky sounds a lot like a character voiced by Mel Blanc. This often makes Boats seem like a novelty act. If you can look past the cartoonish, Tweety Bird/Porky Pig qualities of his nasally voice, he can be a pretty tuneful singer, but that task is like ignoring the elephant in the room. The titles “Summercamp vs the Fake Moustache Tree” and “Sunrise on the Muffin District” and lines like “We’re making gift baskets for our enemies/Full of vacuum bags and dead fruit trees” add to the quirkiness, but really, aside from the frontman, everything else is rather formulaic, going straight out of the book for Canadian baroque pop acts, right up to the last ukulele ballad.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Lymangrover