You probably won’t find these guys on one of Radio One’s monotonic daytime playlists, but that is most probably a good thing. Dutch Uncles are a uniquely formed package of vivacious musical elements, and highly entertaining at that.
O Shudder, released on independent British label Memphis Industries, is Dutch Uncles’ fourth studio album since their debut in 2009, and it is what may be considered part of the logical progression of their highly original sound and style.
Complicated and sophisticated song structures merge with off-beat time signatures verging on experimental jazz; elements of 1980s electro pop combine with the lounging piano riffs one might hear in Carpet Right (if you’ve ever been to Carpet Right, you’ll know what I mean); front man Duncan Wallis’ vocals hold similarity to those of Alexis Taylor’s from Hot Chip; and lyrically, Wallis delivers a poetic intellectually which veers towards the pretentious, but wonderful.
All of these elements come together, in O Shudder, with the expertise one may imagine coming from six years and four albums worth of focus on a unique formula.
It may be argued that the band’s originality is to the detriment of their commercial success at this stage. However, artistry and the development of a distinctive style to its fullest form trump commerciality – which doesn’t necessarily involve any of these things – every time.
It was the Oscar, Golden Globe and seven-time Grammy-winning genius, Prince, who said recently that “albums still matter”, and O Shudder is a fully formed album which matters.
A unique and artistic 7½ out of 10!