Machester's favourite artful wonk-pop outfit Dutch Uncles continue to churn out material, with their latest being 2017-due Big Balloon. Fronted by a self-titled and explosive lead single, with the typical addition of Duncan's (lead) off-kilter dance moves, this edition takes listeners on a consistently intricate avant-garde journey.
Vinyl LP £15.99 MI0441LP
180g black vinyl LP on Memphis Industries.
- Includes download code
CD £9.99 MI0441CD
CD on Memphis Industries.
Vinyl LP £17.99 MI0441LPX
Indies only 180g clear vinyl LP on Memphis Industries.
- Indies only
- Includes download code
I've really been looking forward to this but.....but.
First up - 'O Shudder' was great. Lots of it was great. The odd bit slid past unnoticed but plenty as inventive 80's style pop sometimes so reminiscent of Kate Bush that Theresa May was blushing with pride. 'Big Balloon' is an ok album that mostly sounds like the lesser bits of 'O Shudder' given a funkier harder edged makeover. Lead tracks 'Big Balloon' and 'Streetlight' are both slick and lovely examples of the more sophisticated end of the 80s pop spectrum but what frustrates about the first half of the record is that the eschew their pop sensibilities for rhythmic and rather aggressive funk that sits somewhere between Field Music and later Wild Beasts.
Doubly frustrating is when they get their baroque hat on on 'Achameleon' they prove that they can still do lovely things. It is in this setting where Duncan Wallis's distinctive voice is better used rather than straining agains a too loud funk band. It concerns me that they've been listening to Wild Beasts 'Boy King' because a) no-one should and b) it doesn't suit this arty literate band to be sleazy and nasty. Let's just agree that Prince did it best.
Thankfully (unlike the front loaded 'O Shudder') there are some sweet tunes hidden later in the album. 'Hiccup' perfects their incongruous take on XTC with synths and I've already mentioned the lovely almost Blue Nile ish atmospheric pop of "Streetlight' and 'Oh Yeah's chorus is lifted straight from Scritti Politti's 'Cupid and Psyche'.
This is a very good band and there are some fine moments here but it doesn't seem like a progression from 'O Shudder', in fact it mainly regresses musically but sounds bigger in production and scope. Their best moments are when they are introverted. Maybe they'll make their very own 'Avalon' yet.
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