Culturedeluxe: The Duckworth Lewis Method
A 2009 review of the debut Duckworth Lewis Method album from Culturedeluxe.
The Duckworth Lewis Method - The Duckworth Lewis Method
8 Out Of 10 Stars
As a man who has little to no interest in Cricket whatsoever, it is strange how I now find myself with the unenviable task of reviewing a cricketing concept album. However, when the two perpetrators of this rather perverse record are in fact The Divine Comedy`s Neil Hannon and Pugwash`s Thomas Walsh, I was ready to be bowled a Googly. I am therefore happy to report that there are no sticky wickets in evidence on The Duckworth Lewis Method’s rather splendid debut. The name is apparently taken from a system used to decide the winner when a match is affected by rain, other than that I have no idea what it all means.
Their first missive, ‘The Coin Toss’ is a Beatles – like affair, or perhaps more pertinently, Kinks era Village Green Appreciation Society, evoking as it does a pastoral summer’s evening on the village green. All tinkling ivories and twittering larks with Hannon and Walsh verging very on a Lennon and McCartney pastiche, which serves as little more than a prologue of sorts.
This is followed by ‘The Age of Revolution’ which is a bubbling froth of electronic bass and effected wah wah guitar as witnessed in a speakeasy circa 1930, and very good it is too, coming over as it does like Ten CC and evolving over a lightly chugging groove. This is Walsh and Hannon in a playful mood that sets the tone for the rest of the album.‘Gentlemen and Players’ is rather reminiscent of Hannon’s earlier ‘Promenade’ album with its subtle woodwind and harpsichord motifs. It also features one of the fab two’s best-interwoven vocal performances yet again recalling the halcyon days of the fab four.
‘The Sweet Spot’ is a glam pop stomp of supersonic seventies riffology and panned vocal dynamics complete with intermittent flourishes of analogue synth, handclaps and boogie piano. One imagines that this would perhaps make a rather fine single and also calls to mind some of Luke Haines more recent seventies inspired output.
‘Jiggery Pokery’ is Hannon back adopting his now familiar Noel Coward vaudevillian inspired persona. An archly observed communiqué on the minutia of cricket’s more esoteric elements. But with lyrics such as “It was jiggery pokery, trickery, jokery, how did he open me up? Robbery, muggery, Aussie skulduggery, out for a buggering duck! What a delivery, I might as well have been holding a contra bassoon, Jiggery pokery, who is this nobody, making me look a buffoon? Like a blithering old buffoon?” It’s hard not to be bowled over by the pairs first innings.
‘Mason on the Boundary’ sees Walsh take the lead to deliver one of the albums most beautiful mid tempo ballads and one can only wish that more people would write albums inspired by the test if they are as elegiac as this, stealing the chords form The Drifters seminal ‘On Broadway’ and topped off as it is with a beautiful spoken word commentary.
‘Rain Stops Play’ is Hannon in ‘My Lovely Horse’ territory and possibly, although an instrumental a contender for the best track on the album with its skiffle beat and poignant vibraphone and brass ensemble it is simply put, fantastic!‘Meeting Mr Miandad’ is a rollicking singalong that effortlessly rhymes Pakistan with V W camper van. This is followed in swift succession by
‘The Nightwatchman’, a gorgeous orchestral pop symphony complete with a big chorus, a la ‘The Frog Princess’ that wouldn’t have been out of place on Hannon’s already classic ‘Casanova’. `Flatten the Hay’ finds Walsh once again emulating McCartney on this majestic waltz time ballad that makes you realise just how truly awful the likes of bands such as Coldplay and Oasis truly are. The Match Special’ is Blur with added irony, all Coxon like weirded out guitar fx and lush strings.
Last innings of the match goes to ‘The End of the Over’, a double entendre of psychedelic britishness that is like some avant garde Chelsea love-in circa 1967.
In this day and age whereby the world is being swept with a tidal wave of hysteria due to the death of an inexplicably canonised pop star, this is the perfect antidote in the form of a joyful celebration of the potentialities of pop music.
`The Duckworth Lewis Method’ is a gorgeous album to be cherished by cricket and pop fans alike, and hopefully also an album destined to be blaring out of the loud speakers at the Oval pretty soon.
Culturedeluxe - Keith Haworth