Feb 16, 2017 Issue # 59 - 15th Anniversary
Find It At: AMAZON
Manchester four-piece Dutch Uncles make twisty art-rock with a unique style, incorporating elements of prog and Talking Heads-esque post-punk into their sound. 2015's O Shudder was the band's breakout of sorts, easing some of the nervy restlessness of their early less-accessible releases to create catchy anthems without compromising their tendency to experiment with time-signatures and chord changes. From there, Dutch Uncles has moved on to Big Balloon, which sees them trading synths for guitars and catchy melodicism for constantly-moving mini-suites of instrumental complexity. It's a dizzying collection of songs that's so full of movement, there's barely anything to grab onto before the next suite begins, but it's also a hell of a lot of fun to listen to.
"Big Balloon" starts the album with an urgent and forceful bass guitar thump, layering in guitars and those unique vocals into what becomes an anthem of disorientation. "Combo Box" is built on a funky guitar motif until the chorus comes in, smoothing out the wrinkles with its '80s-indebted bass tone and slinky vocals. Frontman Duncan Wallis is in true form, as throughout this album he leads the instruments into consistently unexplored territory. Piano ballad "Achameleon" is one of the few quiet moments, utilizing major and minor keys in ways few musical acts pull off as effortlessly as Dutch Uncles do in nearly every song. "Streetlight" is another highlight, its jittery synth motif laying the groundwork for some truly creative texture work from every corner of the band's sound profile.
Ultimately, Big Balloon probably won't gain them many new fans, but while the album suffers just a tad from relentless busy-ness, its proggy ambition combines with Wallis' penchant for gently ambitious, catchy melodies to make a creative work very few artists are capable of achieving. (www.dutchuncles.co.uk)
Author rating: 7/10
Average reader rating: 8/10
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