Shakespeare had it right when he said "what's in a name?" Whether as Fatboy Slim, Beats International, Freak Power and now The Brighton Port Authority, Norman Cook has always had the ability to combine samples, found sounds and new recordings to form a catchy tune, thriving on loops and layers, as is his way. I Think We're Gonna Need A Bigger Boat is effectively a collection of songs showcasing an array of musical styles with a host of different collaborating vocalists. The names to be dropped here include Iggy Pop on a comparatively slick cover of The Monochrome Set's He's Frank," David Byrne's unmistakable tones strangely juxtaposed with Dizzee Rascal, and British singer/songwriter of the hour, Emmy The Great.
Styles often chop and change mid-song, as on Dirty Sheets as it jumps back and forth from a Muse-esque anguished rock verse to electro ambient sections. Spurred on by Connon Mockasin's potent New Zealand accent, Jumps The Fence's incontestable oddness if not charms, then at least entertains, that is, until the final forty seconds of the repeated title line and bending horns, which could happily have been chopped. The album's midsection hits a lull as Island (which could easily be at home on The Beach soundtrack) and Jamie T's south London brawl on Local Town fail to be anything other than dull.
The problem with being a mish-mash of genres and personalities is that I Think We're Gonna Need A Bigger Boat is frightfully and frustratingly inconsistent. Perhaps the jerky transitions between songs are a self-conscious acknowledgement of the lack of flow throughout. Yet, in another way, the range here is a good thing, it means there's something for everyone, and on occasion allows an opportunity to hear vocalists come out of their comfort zone, as Martha Wainwright ditches her trademark austere folk in favour of upbeat pop reggae number Spade. On a more personal note, if there's one thing that should be outlawed, it's mobile phone ringtones in songs, even if they are camouflaged by Iggy Pop.