Tacoma’s Unlikely Friends rope together members of BOAT and Math and Physics Club for a dose of power pop and shaggy indie that holds a candle for the ‘90s recipe: quirk times hooks equals solid gold. BOAT existed on the periphery of indie pop blogs for some time in the early aughts and this stands as a natural progression of their scruffy four-track pop aesthetic. Taking cues from latter day Apples in Stereo, mid-period New Pornographers and pretty much any point in Fountains of Wayne’s catalog while sprinkling in a dash of early Shins pacing on the slower cuts, the band’s sophomore tape inflates their humble pop pretense to towering proportions. It’s easy to lump the band into the box of slacker rock, hell the band even does it themselves at times, but there’s more drive here than that epithet would let on. There’s Pavement in their veins and a click track backing beat but when Unlikely Friends hit that hook sweet spot their pop feels like its bound for a bigger budget.
Leaning into the plurality of downer themes floated on buoyant hooks, the band never suffers from pushing their power pop formula into saccharine territory. Far from it, they wax poetic on stagnation, homesickness, love (naturally) and well, baseball, quite a bit of baseball actually. The album is a bold shot across the bow of 2018 and an antidote to an overabundance of garage-flecked power pop, giving the genre back its bittersweet core. This is likely to get lost between the cracks of 2018, it came out in January and I find it just now floating to the surface. That’s no reason to miss out though, there’s plenty to chew on here and like BOAT before them, there are too many gleaming moments hidden under the rough exterior to ignore.
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