We Made It For You
ow do you feel about cutesy stories about where music comes from? The Boats' first record Songs By The Sea apparently was found in a box on the beach, and this second effort consists entirely of pieces wrested from a single, solo piano song. It's all a bit precious and slightly annoying, but luckily it doesn't find its way into the music at all—how could it?
Given the limitation of their working method for We Made It For You, there were two directions the Boats could have gone in. They could have stretched and warped the sound of the piano until something resulted, something interesting or pretentiously boring; or they could have made a record that sounds like almost every other solo piano album ever made. They've chosen the latter, with subtle processing added in for a little spice, and the result is exceedingly pleasant but not exactly earth shattering.
At its best, like the penultimate “Johnathan And Rob” where processing sends a single note skipping around the room, the Boats do manage to make something beautiful, and you could listen to this for a thousand rainy mornings. “Johnathan And Rob” is also noteworthy for having the most non-piano sound of the album, the subdued digital gnashing giving those notes something to arise out of. And when you re-listen to the album you may notice that the exact same skipping note runs through most of “Mum And Dad.”
Which means, individual track indexes aside, this really is more like one large composition. There are motifs, themes, and recurring melodies, all the things you’d expect from one song blown up to forty minutes. But those indexes are pretty sharp, almost jarring at times. Instead, the structure doesn't let you relax into the music the way one longer composition would, and doesn't differentiate enough between songs to make the existing divisions worthwhile.
What results is uniformly enjoyable, and hard to dislike; the sound is so winsome that hating We Made It For You is the musical equivalent of kicking a puppy just because you wanted a cat instead. But it's hard to really warm up to a record that often sounds like nothing more than an extended “chill out” remix of Eno's “1/1.” That song walks a difficult path by remaining both austere in the way it lets those piano notes hang suspended in the air and yet warm and inviting. This music never quite reaches that middle ground: it wants you to like it—and you want to return the favour—but ultimately there's some minuscule, crucial element missing.
Reviewed by: Ian Mathers
Reviewed on: 2005-11-07