Dutch Uncles – O Shudder Review

O Shudder Image

O Shudder is the fourth full length studio album from ‘Math-Pop’ Indie group Dutch Uncles. The Manchester group have been plying a similar, but by no means linear trade to that of Wild Beasts, Teleman and Field Music. All have their own distinctions and flirtations with Wild Beasts elements of neo-psychedelia and the more minimalist slant of Teleman. Regardless of where they lean, they are trying to reimagine music in their own vision and any re-working of music in 2015 is very much needed and appreciated. Dutch Uncles are certainly more a plier of Electronic leaning perspectives on this sound and this is very much that case with O Shudder too, or so you’d imagine.

‘Babymaking’ features those soft ‘popping’ synths and thin string sections running through them along with a slightly warped and exaggerated bass-line and crisp percussion to deliver the sound build up into the chorus. Whilst being rather fragile and subtle in it’s tone and structure, it’s the slightly whirring vocals of Duncan Wallis that gives the song a more solidified and tangibility about it. ‘Decided Knowledge’ evokes in some part the songs of Peter Gabriel in the early eighties with it’s launching into the percussion and the broken down rhythm sections that go on to drive the song and dictate it’s arrangement with the electronica feeding off it to add pieces of melody and some easy on the ear hooks with the bass tying the song down as it’s anchor to the more explorative instrumentals that gave way for more easier and fluid vocals to compliment the light pop sensibility of the track with it’s smart little riffs and chords.

Those higher toned and staccato synths open ‘Accelerate’ in a delicate fashion before being with heavy and warped samples and riffs and it soon kicks up an steadily rotating and constantly effective rhythm to drive the song on with the crisp bass lines and the lightly oscillating riffs and these give the vocals the option to sweep above the instrumentals and for Duncan to explore his range a little. Aside from that it’s a track that explores it’s depths and pitches brilliantly. The shifts and progressions in this track are evocative of the album but it’s done excellently here. ‘Tidal Wave’ continues in the same fashion, but with the perfect isolation and blocky nature of each element from the nudging synths and the high volume bass line. The vocals wonderfully fall into the gaps these blocky sounds create but along with the strings they contribute an fine element of fluidity to the song as do the churning ‘EDM in restrain’ towards the end. ‘Upsilion’ has the retro video-game like electronica driving it and this offers up an indelible groove to the track that the low lying bass and shimmering synths simply feed off brilliantly and again this sets a great foundation for the vocals to sweep and meander in delivering the lyrics without being overwhelmed or constrained by the instrumentals. The piano driven tracks still have a certain musical peculiarity about them, but remain more simple affairs that are more reliant upon the lyrics though they very much up to standard and offer up enigmatic vocal back and forth harmonies. With this album they’ve even made the most basic parts of the album interesting and dynamic, if not always predictably lively and engaging, but a wondrous and intricate album nonetheless.

Dutch Uncles – O Shudder = 8/10

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