Tugboat Captain are just so charming. They play adorable 70s pop channeled through a Death Cab for Cutie filter. Warm, bright, elaborate pop melodies featuring layers of keys and soft synths carry their songs. Their newest single “Be Strong, Smoke Less” captures their ethos and provides a fair litmus test of if you’ll see them as one to watch.
Out of South London, since 2017, they’ve been releasing independent music and consistently touring garnering fans. They claim insanely silly live shows as well, featuring nudity on occasion. I don’t know how that could happen but it would double the chance for a decent time with the visual and aural spectacles.
They are not going to be for everyone as it has a kind of college radio station vibe. There’s a cool, hipster character that may be approaching “try hard” status, but like a Portlandia skit, even though reality is slightly stretched, the performance captures a truthful essence.
The song’s title is the theme. It’s a litany of imperatives within the mind, I would guess, of what needs to be done to improve, but the self lacks the courage. With the pleasing flow of the song, the words carry an easy to follow thread and the interplay of very Ben Gibbard like male vocals, and a female vocalist as well makes an enjoyable single.
Tugboat Captain are on the road until mid April in England. Is there any chance that they might be coming to the US any time soon?
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