Winnipeg's Boats are further testament, if we needed it, of the fertility of the current Canadian indie scene. There are so many ideas jockeying for centre-stage in their mix of jagged alt-rock and grinning cartoon-pop that Cannonballs, Cannonballs, their second album, takes some acclimation time. But this effort pays dividends in pure, unabashed glee. Equal parts grandiose and sweeping and silly/surreal, Boats float on waves of Beefheart and surf the gently weird.
Matt Klachefsky sings with a strange, high, androgynous tone that seems both fey and assertive, bringing a joyous, original personality to the music, so that even when the currents of Pavement or Shudder to Think are strong, there is still a dominant voice holding the centre. The volatile "Sunrise On the Muffin District" and the jingling "Haircuts For Everybody" seem like twisted confessionals from a some troubled child prodigy, while the slower but no less dramatic "Chrome Eyelids" is arguably the height of the record's controlled madness. Half the time you're not sure whether they want to beat you up or seduce you, but Boats certainly keep your attention.