Wisden: The Duckworth Lewis Method
A 2009 review of the debut Duckworth Lewis Method album from Wisden.
Catchy As Can-Can
Daniel Brigham reviews The Duckworth Lewis Method
Songs written by Neil Hannon and Thomas Walsh.
An album of cricket songs full of witty lyrics and pleasing tunes
ONE ALBUM of 12 pop songs about cricket, co-written by the man behind the witty but slightly smug cult band The Divine Comedy; surely this concept was doomed to drown in self-satisfied tedium? But what we have here is a joyous, clever collaboration of all things cricket.
The Duckworth Lewis Method are two Irish musicians - The Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon (perhaps best known for writing the theme tune to the sitcom Father Ted and Thomas Walsh of the pop band Pugwash.)
They are the new McGrath and Warne: constantly hitting the spot, frequently introducing a bit of magic and only occasionally straying from a good line.
Although the songs are pastiches, they are mostly performed with a twinkle in the eye that saves the album from horrid affectation.
After the synthy ‘The Coin Toss’ (how else to start an album about cricket?) comes the most accessible tune on the record, ‘The Age Of Revolution’. A slow-grinding English reggae beat is the backdrop to some spot-on, fun lyrics about the changes facing cricket (“Always denied entry by the English gentry/Now we’re driving Bentleys playing Twenty20”). It might not seem possible but in four minutes Hannon and Walsh have somehow made the game sound sexy.
‘Gentlemen and Players’ is a poor selection, a dreadful Kinks copy but thankfully the most concise history of cricket set to music you are likely to hear. After the wobble and stomp of ‘The Sweet Spot’ (cue more double entendres than Carry On Up The Khyber) ‘Jiggery Pokery’ comes in at No.5. It is the album’s best moment and deserves pushing up the order.
A Gilbert and Sullivanesque jaunt, it is worth celebrating merely for being the only song ever written as if Mike Gatting should sing it. What follows is a funny first-person account of Shane Warne’s famous ball, with lines like “Robbery, muggery/Aussie skullduggery/Out for a buggering duck” and, this being Gatting, a mention of cheese rolls.
Less inventive but just as joyful is the gentle ‘Meeting Mr Miandad’, a theme-tune-in-waiting for a comedy series about setting off in a VW campervan in search of Javed Miandad - something we have all dreamed of doing at some point.
The biggest change of pace is the maudlin ‘The Nightwatchman’.
It imagines the plight of a tailender keeping himself awake through worry about resuming as a nightwatchman the next morning: “I’m the nightwatchman, alone in my bed/Fighting the ghost and the demons inside my head.”
When the final track, ‘The End Of The Over’, plays out, you would not be surprised to catch a whiff of leather, willow, ale and cucumber sandwiches.
Remarkable for two Irishmen and 12 songs. Well played, Sirs.
Rated: 4 Out Of 5
Wisden - Daniel Brigham