If ever there was an album that screams “lo-fi psychedelia” at you, it’s this second release from Manchester quartet, Douga. Or rather, it whispers the phrase quietly in your ear. But then really, I should learn to listen to things more carefully before making sweeping statements like that, for as soon as I typed it, a festoon of caterwauling guitars assaulted me during second track ‘Partly‘, as if it was attempting to beat me into submission until I admitted I was wrong. And I was. Sort of.
To be fair, it turned out to be something of a lone shark in a duckpond, though there are enough off-kilter peripherals going on here to both pique and maintain your interest. If you can imagine Real Estate, Pale Fountains and Teenage Fanclub all sharing a bath together…actually, no, don’t do that, it’s not the most appetising of descriptions, is it? And I haven’t had breakfast yet. No, instead imagine them sitting in the dark on a swivel chair, waiting, with slightly intimidating lap-fastened feline in tow to greet you upon your return from a midnight refrigerator feast. But…but…now ‘Golden Tide‘ sounds more like Temples. WHAT? I’ll tell you what, I’ll listen to this bugger properly before I finish the review, ok?
Right. Now I know. Aptly enough, at the point I left it, ‘Scatter‘ serves as a kind of musical interlude before it hits me that perhaps the closest reference point I can give you here is that of Syd Arthur, who are similarly uncategorisable, and I mean that in a good way. I think.
Is it acceptable for a grown man to cry in confusion midway through a review, do you think? No? Oh. Balls.
Throughout Hidden Tapes & The Golden Tide, Douga consistently reinvent themselves; ‘The Dove‘, for example, somehow manages to sound as rustic as Ryley Walker‘s Primrose Green while at the same time coming across as moody and mysterious as, say, The Dirty Projectors. Yet – and this is the most baffling bit – somehow contrives to sound absolutely nothing like either of them. I wish I could tell you more, I really do, but the truth is that all I can do is just tell you that it’s a very pleasurable listen and wheel out the Syd Arthur reference for a second time.
Also, I am very aware that I have used the I Am Kloot comparison a few too many times in recent reviews, but, dammit, it works here as well! Whether that particular band is being held up as a blueprint for quality by the artists of today (not unreasonably, to be fair), I don’t know, but it seems to work. Anyway, they finish on a high with ‘Find The Love‘, its gentle, constant rhythms like a scenic train journey soothing you into a hypnotic sleep….I am feeling sleepy…I am going to finish the review now…zzzz….and I mean that most contentedly, folks.
Hidden Tapes and The Golden Tide is out now on Do Make Merge.