Moron Police – A Boat on the Sea
Picture the scene: you crash on the sofa with a bag of popcorn to watch a movie after a long day. You don’t give all the hard-hitting, Oscar-winning dramas a second thought; instead you go for a silly action comedy with explosions and car chases. Or how about this: it’s getting late and you’re hungry. Sure, you could cook yourself a proper nutritious meal, but you’d much rather treat yourself by ordering a great big greasy takeaway. The basic principle is the same – just because something is the best option, doesn’t mean it’s the most fun option.
It applies to music in much the same way. We’ve reviewed some incredible game-changing records that we’ve been happy to close the door on and haven’t revisited since, meanwhile some of our most listened to records have received far less praise. Sometimes you’re not looking for a band that will change your life, sometimes it’s enough for a band to just put a smile on your face. Norwegian outfit Moron Police are well equipped for the task with their new record A Boat on the Sea, which is simply a shot of pure joy.
The record feels like it builds upon the legacy of acts like Boston and ELO. It is progressive at its foundations, there is a real intricacy and inventiveness to the musicianship, but the main focus lies in creating endearing and accessible melodies. While not quite perfecting any big sing-along choruses, though admittedly coming close on ‘The Undersea’, each track still manages to pull you in with an irresistible air of positivity. With some soaring guitars, playful synths, a few accordion interludes and some understated sax flourishes (and even a bit of techno on the intro to ‘The Phantom Below’), the admirable musicianship rarely distracts from the hooks or outstays its welcome, but does provide plenty of variety to keep you on your toes.
It does have a few hiccups however that hold it back from being a great album instead of merely a good one. The madcap breakdowns in ‘Captain Awkward’ feel rather out of place, feeling more at home amongst the excesses of early Genesis than in a record aimed at making prog accessible. And while ‘The Dog Song’ is heaps of fun, lyrically it is as questionable as you’d expect from a song written from the perspective of a dog. Perhaps my greatest complaint, and one that I very rarely make, is that it feels too short. Only a handful of tracks all rushing by in a hyperactive blur. Like a bewilderingly over-the-top surprise party that springs up around you, disappears as quickly as it appeared, and leaves you wondering if it was all a dream.
What the album has going for it though is how it radiates a playful charm in everything it does. Take album highlight ‘Beware The Blue Skies’: name me another band that could make one of the most hyperactive and gleeful tracks songs of the year on the topic of America’s insatiable warmongering. Even down to the absurd and vibrant artwork this album is a party from start to finish. Each time I press play I wonder whether this time there will be an explosion of confetti to accompany the music. I can say two things with some certainty: this probably won’t be the best album you’ll hear this year, but it will likely be the most brilliantly bonkers one that you’ll come by in 2019.