The band BOAT is a band that rewards long time fandom with payoff. In the lead, “Sharpshooters,” which is a clever love song about running together from metaphorical men with guns sung in an apathetic tone, the band nods to lyrics from a previous song on a previous album (“Lately”), “On the day that I turn 23, I’ll be eating nachos, but it won’t be with my mom, it’ll be with you.” The band is the indie rock epitome of Seattle, mixing Pearl Jam with Sleater Kinney, a task best accomplished in Wild Flag, but successful in BOAT. The lyrics are truer to life in a mundane way; these are the details that most bands avoid in seeking the universal pain or ecstatic happiness. This is reality in between.
The guitar tones are light, almost surfing along the drum beats. “Hating the Criminal” offers a perfect example of nonchalant vocals delivered in a deadpan, as if to suggest that the way the world is is just the way the world is, against a thumping drum and a thrilling guitar. The songs are simultaneously easy going, but jaded. When the lead singer exclaims on “Pretend to Be Brave,” “Come on” after the conclusion of a sequence of events and a constant beeping of a keyboard, it recasts the album title in a more resigned ironic light.
Pretend to Be Brave is solid rock for the apathetic and disillusioned without dragging down into the mopey and depressed. The guitar borders on light and danceable while also commanding the music to not take itself so seriously. BOAT narrowly escapes sounding like The Magnetic Fields by being just a little more honest with their jaded view on love and life.