CD Review: The Boat People – Echo Stick Guitars

Review: Lana Harris

The Boat People   Are The Boat People benefiting from all the media coverage of a certain method of arrival upon our land girt by sea? Like the refugee boats, they’ve recently taken a new direction, ending up in previously unexplored waters. The audio land about turn has definitely benefited The Boat People. Previously an Indie pop band, the new single ‘Echo Stick Guitars’ presents the four piece as Australian electro pop. The song made me feel like I was joyfully stumbling through a fluro hued platform game, the lack of depth made up for by the easy accessibility
to a steady beat that bounces you along. Robin Waters (who penned the tune) says he came up with the chorus (hey champions, hey violins, hey echo stick guitars) by stringing together heroic sounding words in a Tasmanian gorge at night. I’m wondering which other spooky Australian landscape inspired the velodrome reference later on.

It’s hard not to make comparisons with those Aussie stalwarts Regurgitator, who took a similar turn from indie rock to electro grooves. But The Boat People’s sound is definitely unique, and perhaps the comparison springs to mind simply because Regurgitator are the only other band I can think of who’ve done something similar.

‘Echo Stick Guitars’ was born from a growing interest by Waters in hip-hop, and the b-side single remix, ‘Bikey Mix featuring Julez’ makes the connection obvious. The extra lyrics dropped in weave a more complex pattern between the chorus breaks than on the single. It’s chaotic poetry, no clear story and no rival for the single, but it shows how Waters might distinguish himself – through combining the beats and love of the lyrical that hip-hop provides, with an edge of playfulness that extends to the bizarre, rather than just to the amusing, where so much of Aussie hip-hop tends to chill out. If the new album can build on this unique combination, then The Boat People will have managed to sail into a harbour they can solely, and proudly, call their own. But we’ll have to wait for the album (due out next year) to find out.

The Boat People Buy The Boat People music from iTunes