Two years after the success of Out of Touch in the Wild, which famously won them adoration from Paramore, Manchester’s own Dutch Uncles have returned with their fourth full-length, O Shudder. Recorded with their long-term collaborator Brendan Williams, the four-piece have promised it to be their most accessible yet.
From the start of O Shudder – beginning on the sleek and steamy ‘Babymaking’- it’s clear that the band carry further some of the sounds they arrived at, on with Out of Touch in the Wild. Most notable is perhaps that chipper, staccato piano with the 80s power ballad tone in ‘I Should Have Read’, or the high-end bass with its quirky lines in tracks like ‘In N Out‘ and next single ‘Decided Knowledge’. Indeed, the whole album feels like it continues fluently from the last; whilst this might be disappointing to those who were expecting something dramatically new from such inventive artists, it does emphasis a well-considered and effective congruence. O Shudder is thus a manifestation of that characteristic sound that Dutch Uncles have for several years now been sculpting: intelligent and impeccably orchestrated pop, coloured with a retro tint. It really does work, and an especial attribute of the record is the strength of the melodies, which are on point throughout.
The later part of the album initially feels less accessible, with its slightly darker tones and more off-kilter structures. Nevertheless, these deep sounds, in the likes of ‘Accelerate’, have potential to translate to something huge in a live environment. The full-sounding synths in tracks like ‘Don’t Sit Back (Frankie Said)’ will no doubt be popular with fans of the latest Wild Beasts record, which had a similar ‘grower’ quality about it.
The album does not however end on such a heavy note, closing track ‘Be Right Back’ is among the most upbeat and strong tracks on the record. Featuring the vocals of Liverpool’s folk trio Stealing Sheep, layered beautifully over glistening textures and a beat that evolves ingeniously into a disco groove. With some of their biggest shows to date coming up next month, Dutch Uncles are indeed back in action.
Live: KOKO – April 10th