Review Summary: Running through the chaos with not a care in the world.
The saturation of aspiring artists in pretty much every sub-genre has gotten so dense these days that artists are getting forced to find new ways to burst through into the limelight. In the past, when you were a promising artist with talent and a good ear for melody, a scout from a record company would pick you up, record an album with you and promote the sh*t out of you to make sure they got their money back. These days, you have to first prove yourself among a virtual whirlwind of contemporaries all screaming for attention. As a result, artists are finding increasingly unconventional ways to stick out.
Now I’ve noticed a weird juxtaposition in some major parts of the music business lately. Artists seem to separate their image more from the actual music they are playing, in order to keep a sense of musical integrity while at the same time doing something unorthodox with their image to get attention. Whether it’s the new pop sensation (at the moment of writing) "Billie Eilish" with her quasi horror style while still just making run-of-the-mill pop music, or a band like "Protest the Hero" with their over the top hipster aloofness while in actuality making complex and layered compositions that are anything but aloof.
When you hear the band name ‘Moron Police’, I think most of you can guess which side of the coin was opted for in this case. Because yes, “Boat on the Sea” definitely falls into this phenomenon where image and music seem split. Everything from the band’s name to the album artwork seems to scream that this is a band not to be taken seriously. And yet, when listening to “Boat on the Sea”, I can’t help but get the feeling that this is music to be taken very seriously indeed, if only due to its outright quality and attention to detail.
At first glance, the music of "Moron Police" appears to be a hodgepodge of styles and directions going from pop/rock to symphonic progressive music and jazz. Yet let the songs simmer a little bit, and out come a couple of clear influences and focus-points for the music. The most immediate of these focal points is that the entire album is very uplifting and pleasant on the ears. Sondre Skollevoll’s vocals are a warm baritone and are difficult to actively dislike. The tempos of the songs are up-tempo without becoming fast-paced and the mix has a very clean but airy quality to it, which prevents the music from becoming too clogged or busy sounding. Songs like The Phantom Below
and Captain Awkward
even have a clear J-pop influence making it inherently positive and hopeful. It makes for an album that, if anything, will lift your spirits.
Another clear point of focus on “Boat on the Sea” is the instrumentation. Equal parts "Mr. Bungle" and "Thank You Scientist", there is a lot of crazy virtuosity going on throughout most of the songs. The talent and musicianship of "Moron Police" is clearly through the roof and it shows in most of the songs. Yet the band makes room to breathe by having clear song structures and catchy choruses. Yes, it is complex if you dive a little deeper, but I could easily showcase this to my mother and she would probably enjoy it, because the musical prowess is not too on the nose and the songs are focused with a clear sense of direction.
The eight songs (seven if you don’t count the one minute intro) are short, sweet and all have their own character and style. From the accordion outro of Beware the Blue Skies
, painting pictures of the seaside on a sunny summers day, to the easygoing The Dog Song
with its quirky brass instruments and acoustic guitars, there is not a boring second on the record. Except for the cheese factor that music like this will unavoidably attract, there is little here to point the finger to in terms of criticism. At 33 minutes, it doesn’t overstay its welcome and even leaves me wanting a single more song, which is exactly the right place it needs to be. It makes me want to spin the whole thing over again the second I stop listening and I love that feeling.
However, it does lack a little something that keeps me from giving this a higher score. It is not necessarily greater than the sum of its parts. It misses a little weight, or that one big epic composition that would catapult this into the upper echelons. As it stands, it's a collection of incredibly enjoyable songs, but maybe nothing more than that. Maybe it is and I just haven’t found it yet, but only time will tell. For now though, I’m just going back to my happy place and put “Boat on the Sea” back on.