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Dutch Uncles Cadenza
Released 22 April 2011

Brendan Williams,
Phil Bulleyment
Label Memphis Industries
Length 38:01
Genre Alternative
Website dutchuncles.co.uk

2009 saw the release of Manchester based five piece, Dutch Uncles’ self titled debut album. Don’t worry if it’s not ringing any bells, it didn’t manage an official release in England, Germany being the sole beneficiary of their output. So for many, myself included, Cadenza will be their first encounter with Dutch Uncles, a band who cite The Smiths, King Crimson and Talking Heads as their main influences. Not that I want to pigeonhole a band based on their personal taste alone but I’m suspecting that this might not be your average pop album.

My suspicions are confirmed immediately with the agitated and relentless piano riff of opening track 'Cadenza', however much I expected something left-field it’s still a jarring introduction to the band. The piano is effectively the main instrument here, the bass plays a simple descending line throughout while the guitar mirrors the piano though not quite as aggressively. Even lead singer Duncan Wallis’s vocals avoid taking the spotlight here, preferring instead to stay off beat and in the upper echelons of falsetto.

This off kilter theme pervades Cadenza, leaving the listener with a veritable smörgåsbord of musical ideas. Dutch Uncles have a gift for creating catchy musical passages; like the syncopated guitar and drum intro of 'Sting', the music box styled intros of 'The Rub' and 'Dressage' or the extremely prog dual guitar riff that appears out of nowhere on 'Ocduc'. Each moment is expertly designed by a band successfully avoiding clichéd song writing.

The highlight of the album is 'Dolli', a simple song built on layered vocal harmonies with the faintest hints of guitar and percussion emerging from time to time. The vocal accompaniment is breathtaking and magnificently crafted, calling to mind 10cc’s 'I’m Not In Love'. Wallis takes a more subdued and relaxed role with the lead vocals leaving the chorus as a simple repetition of the strangely haunting lyric; "You know I’m a bird"- a million miles away from the manic opening track.

There was so much of Cadenza I liked; hearing complicated songs played by talented musicians is something we don’t get enough of in Pop Music. Keeping tight through meandering riffs in convoluted time signatures seems to be confined to Heavy Metal these days. Add to this the feeling that you never know what’s coming next and you have a winning formula. It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea but if you like your music a little more cerebral then you could do a lot worse than picking up a copy of Cadenza.

- Brian Kinsella