Dutch Uncles – Out of Touch in the Wild

(Memphis Industries)

Three albums in, Dutch Uncles are doing things the old fashioned way, and its working. Many new acts build up mountains of hype before they have even released a single, so when it comes to the album release, what happens if its crap and all the hype was just meaningless, music-hack filler? Well Dutch Uncles haven’t allowed themselves to stray down this oh-so-slippery path, and have built on their sound over 3 albums. Each has been a work of math/art rock pride, progressing and fine tuning with each release, culminating in the superb ‘Out of Touch in the Wild’.

There are certainly parallels to be drawn with other contemporary math-rock patrons. ‘Threads’ sounds like it could have been off the last Metronomy album, and lead single ‘Fester’ has the same glitchy energy as an Everything Everything track, but with lyrics that are actually comprehensible. The use of keys and xylophone are reminiscent of label-mates Field Music, but there is still a definite sense of originality on the record, shown best on the innuendo-soaked lyrics of ‘Flexxin’. ‘Out of Touch in the Wild’ most of all though is a record with a sense of humour. It bounces here and there, touching on sensitive issues with a light-hearted gait, forcing a tap in your left foot and a little upturning at the edges of your mouth.

W. Moss

(Source: Spotify)

Villagers –  {Awayland} (Domino)

Conor O’Brian and his merry band of Villagers don’t leave their folk roots behind on album two, but give them an upgrade, incorporating synths and more electric guitar to create a bold sounding, yet introspective piece of work. While debut ‘Becoming a Jackal’ had a more esoteric vein with its songs of rituals and beasties, ‘{Awayland}’ goes in another direction and tells stories, expressing O’Brians confidence issues and how he overcomes them.

This is most evident on ‘Earthly Pleasure’, an every-man story not a million miles from ‘A Day in the Life’. Lead Single ‘Nothing Arrived’ follows the same vein, “I was waiting for something, but nothing arrived…” but swells to a triumphant climax, strings blaring, signalling some kind of euphoric understanding by O’Brian. ‘The Waves’ shows the new electronic elements in Villagers music, opening with rhythmic, Morse code like bleeps. The use of saxophones on ‘Passing a Message’ brings to mind a jazzier Dog is Dead, before back to classic Villagers to wind down the last three tracks on the album.

Second albums can always be a problem, especially when a debut gains so much critical acclaim like ‘Becoming a Jackal’ did. However, Conor and co. needn’t worry about losing the fan base that that album gained them, as ‘{Awayland}’ hasn’t lost any of the tricks that made it so special. Its kept them, and simply added, to glorious effect.  W.MOSS

(Source: Spotify)