If being hazy and breezy is more important than being original then Boardwalk fit in to the contemporary criteria in a post Beach House world perfectly. Vocalist Amber Quintero’s ethereal and serene sadness resonate through her dreamy vocals as Boardwalk’s eponymous debut album portrays the slow and imminent ending of a relationship.
Mike Edge, the second half of the L.A based duo, seems to harbour a glum approach to his musical projections as the pair deviate from haunting, melancholia oozing numbers infused with obvious elements of surf rock. Together, Boardwalk have created an album that disfigures any intensity of emotion and creates a calm and un-concerning group of songs, encapsulated in the lazily beautiful It’s Over, and the use of Quintero’s dreary vocals and an arpeggiated guitar refrain.
There is something intimidating and engaging about this understated sad and, at times, brutal album. Personal it is, there are moments of care freeness, underselling any whim or demonstration of sharp honesty though it is cleverly concealed within the album. Though not overtly self-pitying like Noah and the Whale’s songwriting on The First Days of Spring, the songwriting grips you in it’s melancholic hold where the listener is then coated in a rich, layered and affective world.
The album opener I’m Not Myself “So why should I try?” Quintero rhetorics, instantly showing the central theme of the album, the announcement of both non intent and non content. The inevitable break up is shown even further in the penultimate song Some Things as Quintero heartbreakingly states “There are somethings you can’t change.” The best song on the album is As A Man, a more defiant song that detaches itself from the rest of the slightly laid back emotional steam, in this track it shows and deconstructs the stereotypical interpretation of a male, with surprisingly alarming accuracy and could be taken from a Mazzy Star or Beach House back catalog. Much like As A Man the song What’s Love Quintero interrogates Quintero’s soon to be ex lover’s indifference to the relationship.
The album ebbs and flows with the use of guitars, large waves of synths and a feeling of Surf rock melded in, Quintero’s lyrics at times sharp and penetrating but are still delivered with ethereal approach and poise, Edge’s guitar adds vibrancy in to the bands tone.
Though Boardwalk may not be opening doors or an innovative duo they do blend obscurity and beauty perfectly. The albums final song I’m to Blame is a excruciatingly divine piece of work but of course in Boardwalk’s own style, in an understated way. It flows with a spectral atmosphere, it slowly creeps in to the listeners mind and being, not overtly pushing it’s way through, it allows the listener to be bathed and saturated in the sound. Quintero utters “and I think I’m to blame.” as she resigns from her current love relationship, but in a cool, understated and ghostly way.
The album is beautiful and murky because it evokes the feelings that Boardwalk want to evoke, feelings that you may yourself have been suppressing. The songs are dirges for broken down relationships that have elements of regret and melancholy, and reverb thrown in for good measure.