Album Reviews

Sailboats Are White – Turbo

(Poptones) UK release date: 30 October 2006


Punk is a very, very over used word these days. In fact sometimes you struggle to remember exactly what the word used to mean, and what Punk music is supposed to sound like. Sailboats Are White are here just in time to remind us exactly what Punk is all about.

Turbo is an album that thunders past in the blink of an eye, thrashing though thirteen songs in just over half an hour. So blistering is the pace that at times you wonder if you’re actually listening to a CD or whether you’ve tuned your radio to static.

Opening proceedings with a little blip of electronic noise and a slowly plucked guitar, SAW pull a classic trick of misdirection. Just as you’ve settled down for what you expect will be a gentle lull of an album, a brisk hi-hat ushers in the white noise of Congratualtions On The Goddamn Cherries and from here on in there is no let up.

An unrelenting drum machine powers songs that are as abrasive as a barbed wire loofer. Drum machines may be considered fairly un-punk, but seeing as this one apparently lacks no mercy and appears to have some kind of electronic S&M relationship with Chris MacInerney’s keyboards we’ll let it pass. If the truth be told, at times you wonder how a mere human drummer would be able to keep these songs together such is the energy contained within each one.

An obvious influence on the band is Big Black, and if nothing else this can be seen in the guitar sound which at times sounds like finger nails down a blackboard. Steve Albini used to play with a metal guitar pick that he cut striations into; this used to shred the strings within a couple of songs but it gave him that unmistakably aggressive tinny sound. If Kevyn Wright isn’t using a similar technique on The Fourth Finger Of My Left Hand, then we suggest you eat your own hats (we’ve just eaten thanks – no hats for us).

Kevin Douglas’ vocals add to the aural assault as he part screams, part whines his lyrics. It’s an unusual style to be sure, and one that masks any meaning that the songs may have. We’re sure we heard something about a cherry somewhere, and possibly there’s something on Led Eye about having an eye poked out with a pencil, but basically both vocalist and the band’s relentless sonic assault render Douglas incomprehensible. Not that this is a problem of course; he becomes absorbed into the band’s sound becoming a counterpoint for the hiss of the fiercely raked guitar strings of Wright.

Turbo is an album that is not easy to listen to. It is an enjoyable experience for a while, but such an unremitting assault could render the faint of heart catatonic. If you like your music to blast you into submission, Sailboats Are White are the kind of band you’ve been waiting for, for a very long time indeed.


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