Single (2011)

By Kaylen Hann | 18 June 2011

If I asked myself what Orlando, Florida dudes dream of, I don’t think my response would be anything close to the stark stretch of wheat, only interrupted by tractors and gargantuan, centipede-like curls of hay that comprise the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. A stretch of sky, a stretch of land where they look at you funny for buying postcards (which feature just the above or a prairie dog photoshopped under a moon) and can well continue looking at you funny as you as you drive away—for the next four days.

For whatever reason the SASKATCHEWAN dream-pop five-piece (Chandler Strang, Michael Serrin, Samuel Semchuck, Josh Orellano, Geramy Layug) have latched onto this, the quintessential landlocked hunk of land, and in contrast they spend a fair amount of time dabbling in their foamy backing vocals, their surf-rock tinted guitars, and tambourines. Lyrically, there is little to tie SASKATCHEWAN’s songs to the seaside. Sure, this 7” in particular, it’s got the word “boat” in it, but unless Strang means he wants to be the kinda “dream boat” Scully sat in during those boring episodes of X-Files where she’s in a coma, the word “dreamboat” is just some single spot of camp. Strang’s simple line, “Girl, I just want to be your dreamboat,” is followed by a headshake of small confusion or a moment of adolescent verbal loss of composure, finding a foothold in the genre-staple of a drawn ornamentation on “whoa-oa-oa.” This is repeated to the point where it should be agitating—and I won’t rule out for everyone that it won’t be—but it doesn’t personally strike that ad nauseum nerve.

Elsewhere: tambourines so barely dusted they don’t seem to register against the beat track, plus a guitar hook that never pushes over into ambitious whammy-bar twangs or silly clambake territory—nor does it see to paddle over to the drearier, too-much-red-wine end of the nostalgic pool. Instead, that hook is wont to push you to nicely proposition someone you just met, than send sad texts to someone you made out with on a swingset.

Genre pacifists, they never play too far to any one side, feed into a pocket, or even make use of the available arsenal of dream-pop staples for satire. “Dreamboat” may be the first surf-rock single I’ve heard in a while that doesn’t play off nostalgia, either jacking other surf rock or serving up a comment on surfy dream-pop—though I do concede that the A-side track on the band’s recent Nice Daze 7”, “Beast Coast,” might at least, in title, do that. (Even though the organ and breathiness that aesthetically moor the tracks to each other are by far more akin to Beach House than Best Coast.)

Unsarcastic and unsatirized, “Dreamboat” is complex only in ways that feel as effortless as they do fresh. S’nice. A Pains of Being sans those actual pains of being; an unmanipulative Girls; not so inanimate as the static seafoam-and-cove based lyrics of Tennis. The only glint of cheekiness is the word “dreamboat” itself, so effortlessly slipped into our gentle narrator’s (beyond simple) aspirational plea that it bypasses all the angst I’d normally associate with yearning tracks of the like. If the point of the namesake is to tie indie surf rock to uninterrupted volumes of breeziness…well, that is exactly what SASKATCHEWAN does.