Napoleon Einstein: Sticky Wickets Review

The Napoleon Einstein cricket blog reviews the new Duckworth Lewis album.

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They’ve Done it Again: The Duckworth-Lewis Method’s ‘Sticky Wickets’
Cricket’s one and only band of bards pull a Brian Lara and make magic once again.

When your ears first catch wind of the title track of The Duckworth-Lewis Method’s (DLM) sophomore album, Sticky Wickets (Divine Comedy Records), you think you’re listening to a new track from The Who.  That is until you realize the dynamic duo is not singing about anyone’s generation, but instead praising those unbreakable batsman that trouble even the best of bowlers.

Sticky Wickets, is the second album from Pugwash’s Thomas Walsh and the wonderful Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy.  Unlike its predecessor, it feels less like a cricket-themed, musical novelty and a lot more like a solid pop-rock album…about cricket.  With the first album, The Duckworth Lewis Method, “Meeting Mr. Miandad” stood out as a fine quality, danceable, sing-out-loudable pop groove, but the rest of the album suffered under the unique and quirky nature of the group’s cricket jargon and subject matter.  While tracks from their debut like “Test Match Special” and “The Sweet Spot” are catchy, Sticky Wickets provides an extra musical edge that can put a smile on any listener’s face be they cricketer or not. The album’s third track, “It’s Just Not Cricket”, exemplifies the raison d’être of DLM – classic, fun pop music inspired by the nuances of the Gentlemen’s Game.

Hannon’s lyrical zaniness shines through beautifully in songs like “Mystery Man” while Walsh’s vocals, seemingly less engineered than on the previous album, are wonderfully soothing with a hint of peppiness. Noteworthy though is that Hannon’s touch can be felt a lot more strongly on this album than before.  The satirical homage to the men in white labcoats, “The Umpire” could be taken straight off any Divine Comedy album.  His characteristic Baroque influence comes through splendidly especially on, “Boom Boom Afridi” DLM’s ode to the (once) great Pakistani hardhitter.  With the hum of a Sgt. Pepper’s-esque sitar and recordings of David Lloyd to complement the playful pop tune, it is by far one of the most fun on the album.

The album isn’t flawless though.  While they don’t fall flat at all, some of the more experimental tracks, such as the electronic “Line and Length”, are good for one listen and that’s about it.  They are the more novelty tracks that, if not simply album fillers, are only bearable for die hard cricket nuts to get a brief kick out of.  The beautiful orchestration, “Chin Music” stands out, but for those seeking pop consistency it sticks out like a sore thumb.

The album takes a little while to grow on you, but when it does it’s addicting.  If no other track tickles your fancy, at least “Third Man” is bound to get your foot tapping.  As with the rest of the album, it is a wonderful synthesis of both Walsh and Hannon’s styles, though, as prior mentioned, a little more of Hannon’s instrumental influence. Walsh’s unmistakable Irish accent adds the cherry atop the sundae that is his fantastic vocal musings, which are reminiscent of the golden years of true, talent-driven pop music.  Also, the song features Daniel Radcliffe – yes, Harry Potter – a great singer and actor in his own right, though more importantly a cricket enthusiast.

All in all, Sticky Wickets is a very good follow up for The Duckworth-Lewis Method.  It legitimizes them in a big way, showing that their act isn’t just a light-hearted side project, but a solid musical partnership spawned out of wit, talent, and the same unhealthy obsession that inspires every cricketer to play their bizarre, beautiful game.

Sticky Wickets is out now! Check out the video for “It’s Just Not Cricket” and buy the darned album – you won’t regret it!
 

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