New Rules For Boats – All At Sea

New Rules For Boats is quite an odd name for a band, when you think about it. Sadly, the Western Australia-based four-piece offer little nautical themed shenanigans on debut EP All At Sea apart from some tomfoolery with sailors hats and pipes within the sleeve. On paper though, it seems somewhat risky. The band like to experiment with harmonicas and brass alongside their ramshackle brand of pop, and they cite straight down the line bands like Pavement and The Shins as major influences.

I needn’t have worried. After all, they’re from Western Australia, breeding ground of Jebediah, Eskimo Joe, The Fergusons, Snowman, Red Jezebel, Turnstyle and Beaverloop to name just a few. There’s certainly something in the water over there, and whatever it is, Perth’s Brownlow Medal-winning AFL footballers have had a sip too.

All At Sea is a confident, assured debut from a band that seems to have found its feet and has a myriad of ideas. In fact, if New Rules For Boats has a flaw, it simply that the band has too many ideas. Opener You’re On is the finest track here and a true encapsulation of everything that is good about pop music. Coming off like a Polyphonic Spree offcut, the track is two and half minutes of sweet guitar, harmonies recorded after too much red cordial at the dinner table and a crazy brass freakout at the end. It’s cute yet confident and it’s no wonder that Triple J have jumped on the track the way the British tabloids jump on pictures of Pete Doherty looking out of it.

Oh My God is fast and cute, while Gospel Song is precisely that – a slower, country-tinged track that proves that the band can slow things down. Brother and sister duo Sean and Miranda Pollard share vocal duties, with the duo singing verse by verse on the superb Freeway Home, a multi tempo track that climbs higher and higher until reaching the unashamed refrain of “ba-ba-baaaa!” Sing along at home, you know the words.

Sure, the influence of bands like Pavement and Sloan may be apparent, but New Rules For Boats steer clear of becoming yet another tribute band in cowboy shirts and Chuck Taylors by burying their influences under layers of instrumentation, harmonies and through their sheer weight of ideas. New Rules For Boats is anything but all at sea at their title may suggest; rather they are a confident young band with enough ideas to sink a ship (get it? get it?) and who should be even more proficient by the time the debut album rolls around.

I hear the Perth summer is lovely, if there are any major record label executives lurking around…