Thursday, January 29, 2015

Our Music Year No. 30: The Boats, ‘Ballads of the Research Department’

From page A5 | January 30, 2013 |

Artist: The Boats
Title: “Ballads of the Research Department”
Year: 2012
Format: Digital
Grade: B+

U.K. trio The Boats’ first for 12k Records is to be taken as a 45-minute whole, but it is a dreamy excursion.

The track markings are really more mile markers than they are reasonable stopping points. The tracks effortlessly drift from one into the next and there are only four of them at 10-plus minutes apiece.

Melancholy lurks throughout the record. Japanese singer Cuushe provides sleepy vocals that complement the music, never rising above the gloomy veneer.

The best of the four tracks is the last, “Ballad of Indecision.” After Cuushe sings over a glitchy intro section, it devolves into a solemn piano and violin section.

Given the word “ballad” appears in every track title and the record’s name, “Ballads of the Research Department” feels like an attempt to recapture or reinterpret the meaning of the word. Through the prism of The Boats’ work, they don’t have to be radio-ready, piano-based love songs, but instead expand to include a wider breadth of emotions.

In intention and execution, “Research Department” got The Boats off to a good start in 2012.

Our Music Year is Daily Republic popular culture writer Nick DeCicco’s yearlong online review in 2012 of albums he had previously not listened to. The reviews will appear in print on their corresponding days during 2013. Reach him at 427-6966 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at

Nick DeCicco

Nick DeCicco

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