Mancunian 5 piece Dutch Uncles combine some smooth, streamlined pop melodicism and a strong shot of quirkiness on their second album. Cadenza has a strong 80’s influence on the surface, recalling bands like XTC and Talking Heads, but behind the sheen of the razor sharp production lie some labyrinthine, twisting compositions that even have glimmers of mad prog-punkers Cardiacs and Hot Club de Paris. The quality of this album is how it still feels individual despite these influences.
This is unashamedly a pop record. Frontman Duncan Wallis’ voice recalls a more wired Alexis Taylor from Hot Chip, but his band aim themselves slightly more towards the indie dancefloor. Single ‘Fragrant’ signals the band’s trademark sound perfectly – built on a lithe bassline, guitars circle and grow towards the spiralling chorus. ‘Sting’ injects a touch of pogo-happy intensity in its choruses, contrasting nicely with some lush synthy lines elsewhere.
There is some interesting experimentalism to be found here too. ‘Ocduc’ roots itself over a cascading piano loop, lurching its way gradually into a powerful rock out, complete with orchestral drums. It’s proggy twists and turns sound not too dissimilar from French-Canadian oddballs Malajube, and following track ‘Dolli’ is almost entirely constructed from voices, disconcerting harmonies swirling around Wallis’ repetitive melody. It’s a clever track, but one of the few occasions here that the band maybe let their eccentricities get in the way of the quality of the tune. When they hit the dancefloor again for the Dexy‘s influenced rhythms of ‘The Ink’ you sense the band are back in their comfort zone.
This is a quality effort, a proper thinking man’s pop record. Stuffed with ideas, tangents and adventure, this is a genuinely diverting record and more than the sum of its parts. If they can marry their flights of fancy tighter to their indelible melodies, they have a sound all of their own and are definitely ones to watch.
Release Date: 25th April 2011