Album Review – Rut by Tugboat Captain (2020) (Double A-Side Records)
Tugboat Captain have garnered something of a cult following as a result of their ability to wrap the most lo-fi of bedroom pop aesthetics, in a blanket of all that is most perfect about modern twee. They are just ‘that sound’ that get select, intensely passionate, followings.
The most startling aspect of this album is the almost complete production change in comparison to previous releases. Somehow managing to swing free studio time at Abbey Road studio’s no less (after famously being the archetypal home studio band, you can just imagine them running down the street with a tinfoil star held above their heads shouting ‘Oooo look at me!’ about pulling that one off !) which they have determindely justified by adding every conceivable production flourish.
As such Check Ur Health, No Plans (For This Year), Rut…Waking Hour and Downward Slope, place their trust in the processes and templates of 60s yesteryear, with all that was lush, expansive, choral and prospering about the The Village Green Prservation Society and Sgt Peppers… being thrown into a pop blender.
Amazingly the mix of all the above still enables them to retain their inimitable sense of twee, it is just the most melodic twee you are ever likely to hear and acts as a the flawless foundation for them to lavish their The Divine Comedy sense of sardonic, lyrical playfullness.
The ‘extra production’ on the album also reveals a new nuance for the band, as tracks such as C’Mon! Haribo? and Everything About You slide fully off the end of the twee spectrum and into a more bomastic area that cajoles inferences towards the quieter moments of early Arcade Fire and/or The Polyphonic Spree with multiple vocalists, insistent dynamism and a sense of total theatricism. It’s not really what we would traditionally expect from this London based foursome, but that just makes it all the more beguiling.
I would imagine that a few of the bigger indie labels will be vying for this act’s attention after the obvious critical acclaim that this album will indoubtedly receive. It would be a safe bet. As while more ‘studio budget’ can often signal the death knell for genuine ‘indie acts’ like this, Tugboat Captain have shown that they are more likely just to perfect their aesthetic rather than commercialize it when given more production opportunity.
As such, expect this band to be ‘indie huuuuge’ someday very soon !!!