MORON POLICE - A Boat On The Sea
Usually I donít rely to much on info sheets when they turn to hyperbole, like claiming that right this album has just to be one of the best albums of the year. But then sometimes, itís not so wrong after all. Moron Police is a Norwegian rock band consisting of four musicians, two of whom are currently also in the line-up of Major Parkinson, one of the currently most original progressive rock bands around. Norway itself may not be as big on the prog rock map as their Swedish neighbours, but with bands like TusmÝrke, Needlepoint, Ring Van Mobius and of course Motorpsycho, they may just beat them when it comes to quality.
A Boat On The Sea is already the third album from Moron Police, a band with a name that makes you expect rather a hardcore band instead of this really strange yet enchanting kind of progressive pop rock music. If you believe that prog rock albums have to be either more than an hour long, or at least have songs that are at least ten minutes long, you will learn something new with Moron Police.
The album starts with the eighty-second-long Hocus Pocus, too song-like to be just a mere intro, but also too short to be considered a regular song. Itís a moody, melancholic track that does anything but prepare you for what is to follow. The Phantom Below is a high-speed prog pop journey with fast rhythms, inventive synth sounds and nicely rocking guitars. The vocals have this typical Scandinavian intonation that makes you in this case think youíre listening to a Flower Kings vinyl record on 45 rpm. Although the four band members play on the typical instruments Ė guitar, keyboards, bass and drums Ė they have invited a lot of guest musicians that mostly add saxophone parts, but also the odd touches of violin and accordion. The Invisible King is a bit slower in pace, but comes with such a catchy chorus that you rarely find in the progressive genre. Beware The Blue Sky gains speed again, and itís these moments where Moron Police are at their best, because few catchy pop bands dabble at such high rates of BPM. The laid-back The Dog Song, although my least favourite song on the album, still comes with an infectiously good mood that will bring a smile to your face.
And then come the last three tracks. Where most bands leave their worst material for the end, Moron Police really bring out their best, starting with Captain Awkward, the first single of the album for which they also made a beautiful animated video clip. The song itself at five minutes one of their longer tracks, and so varied and full of different details just waiting to be discovered, that you have to fall in love with this piece instantly. It has once again this fast part, scat vocals, a mellower middle part... well, just everything a good progressive rock song needs to have. The Undersea is a shorter but also fast song, quite nice, and working as a bridge to the concluding Isnít It Easy, at seven minutes the albumís magnum opus. It starts with tribal drums, segueing into a fast and rhythmically complex instrumental part, before shedding speed and sounding like a country ballad, even with this twang this cowboy ballads have, then speeding up again to a great chorus, and somewhere in the middle they even intonate the Nyan Cat song, and that is the moment your heart is about to burst with cuteness. The first time I listened to A Boat On The Sea, I felt reminded of Scottish metal guitarist Fraser Edwards who also combines hugely melodic music with excessive speed, so imagine my surprise when I discovered that both covered the Nyan Cat song. As I doubt that Moron Police are familiar with Edwardsí music, this must be a case of "great minds think alike".
So who is Moron Policeís target audience? Pop fans will be scared away by the rhythmic complexity and the wildly inventive twists and turns, whereas many progressive rock fans often just lack the necessary sense of humour to understand that their music is actually a quite funny one, if you can just get the ironic distance. It took me a few turns before I really started getting A Boat On The Sea, and now can claim that it is an extraordinary masterpiece, despite its rather short length. But that should not really be considered a disadvantage, because no one ever complained that Slayerís Reign In Blood were too short either. And just like that, Moron Police take familiar ingredients and prepare them into something quite unprecedented and utterly fascinating, just like the colourful surrealist artwork by Spanish artist Dulk that will hypnotise you with its myriad of details.