Wednesday, 23 January 2013

#17: The Dutch Uncles - Out of Touch in the Wild

Hailing from Marple, Stockport, The Dutch Uncles have gone from strength to strength since releasing their self-titled début in 2009. Now on album number three, entitled Out of Touch in the Wild', the band have obviously matured as musicians. The unusual time signatures and progressive pop sounds that have become more and more prominent through each album have become fully realised in an album that can be considered for all intents and purposes, as beige. Sure it's poppy, and it's danceable but rarely does a song stand out.

The first two tracks on the album, 'Pondage' and 'Bellio' respectively, are ode to the 80s in a way that really doesn't inspire much hope for the rest of the album. Thankfully it takes a turn for the better from the third track and first single 'Fester'. Sounding somethig like Hot Chip the track is bouncy yet mellow and a potential floor filler at any indie club night around the country. The second single 'Flexxin' is another note worthy track with a fantastic string sound accompanying a synth that brings to mind 'Crystallised' by The XX.

The mood of the album is considerably darker and in some instances, sparser than previous efforts from the band, something which is eerily suited to singer Duncan Wallis' polished vocals. That said however, despite the talent each member possesses being audible in each song, the production quality of the record is of standard so high, so shiny and nuanced that it loses something, not necessarily integrity but there's a certain lack of charm to something so evidently produced and tampered with.

The 80s in general is obviously a huge influence on the band and is heard throughout, perhaps most present in penultimate track 'Nometo'. Thankfully the closing track 'Brio' has a bit more to it than the majority of Out of Touch... does, with Wallis' vocal range extending to more than the effected croon that punctuates that rest of the album.

It is nice to hear a band from Manchester without a colloquial drawl to their voices a lá Messrs Gallagher and Fray, but it's a shame that it's polished to a blinding glint and has lost some of the charm that featured on their earlier releases such as 'Face In'. Sure it's expected that bands don't want to keep making the same music album after album, but music should be about energy and passion and while there's no doubt that there's lots of the former behind their playing, the smooth edges of their sound allow it to wash over you before fading in to the background. 

Photo: Danny North/NME