A brilliant second album of intelligent pop from the rightly rising Manchester band.
Mike Diver 2011-04-14
In 2009, a little band from Manchester released an eponymous debut on a little German label, leaving only a little impression on their domestic scene. But from an acorn the mightiest of oaks can grow, and sure enough the years between that set and this follow-up have seen Dutch Uncles come to the attentions of influential sorts in the music industry. Now picked up by label-of-fine-repute Memphis Industries, and with support from several acts enjoying moderate-to-decent success, they’re poised to take a belated step into mainstream hearts.
If one wants to draw the grandest of parallels, then a leap can be taken back to the early 1960s and The Beatles, whose first taste of widespread recognition came courtesy of German audiences. And like The Beatles (once they’d worked their way out all of those covers), these fellow north-westerners pepper pop immediacy with inspired hooks and intelligent lyricism. Too rash to suggest they’re the finest group to hail from said corner of England since the Fab Four? Of course. But in the wake of breakthroughs from Everything Everything and Foals, there’s evidently a market today for this band’s wonderfully breezy brand of clever, concise and cunningly catchy pop that wasn’t quite established two years ago.
Cadenza’s opening title-track skips along with real zeal, thumping percussion playing a balancing act with sprightly keys and buoyant guitars. If the listener knew no better, they might conclude that Scouting for Girls had found genuine ingenuity under their gold discs, as the track has a similar (at its core) piano-indie-pop feel to it. Needless to say, though, that this is many leagues ahead of such comparatively mundane fare – accompanying information refers to influences including Steve Reich, Sparks and Cardiacs, and Dutch Uncles should be categorised as every bit as singularly special as those acts.
Highlights come quickly, striking with immediate effect and retaining their charm numerous listens later (much like the band’s debut, this will hang around the stereo for many weeks). The lolloping X-O spirals its post-punk-ish guitars around a central lyric of stealing breath away; previous single The Ink finds those same guitars being stabbed into action, half Gang of Four, half Guillemots once the soaring climax comes into focus; Orval is a pounding glam throwback with snazzy new trainers in place of platforms; and Dressage is so dizzily breathless it’s a fine sit-at-home substitute for riding a waltzer nine times in a row. "It’s alright," says frontman Duncan Wallis on the latter, just before bellowing like a bungee-jumping John Lydon, but he’s wrong. Cadenza is so much better than alright: it’s more than a little brilliant.