Album Review: Dutch Uncles - O Shudder

Dutch Uncles - O Shudder

‘O Shudder’ could well be the album that breaks Dutch Uncles.


‘O Shudder’ is the sound of a band ensnared in a late-twenties crisis, fretting about a future of family-planning, job-hunting and “settling down”. Thematically oppressive, you might think, but all this semi-autobiographical talk of adulthood makes for Dutch Uncles’ most direct and user-friendly album yet. 2015 could be the year the band break out.

They have a knack for powerful choruses. Quite often, the lyrics change on each iteration, morphing, evolving as the songs progress. There’s a total lack of regularity. ‘Babymaking’ (whimsical in sound, serious in message) shapeshifts to a backing of luscious string arrangements and piano tinkles; ‘Upsilon’, largely incomprehensible, speaks of the perils of social media with Duncan Wallis’ sensuous, constantly changing vocal once again providing the defining thread; ‘Decided Knowledge’, meanwhile, intertwines chanting backing vocals with Wallis’s lead, narrating the mental knock-on effects of a botched job interview. Throughout, the rhythms are complex, the falsetto unpredictable, the melodies unconventional. The future, they reckon, looks similarly warped.

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There are more amorphous interludes, such as the chiming ‘Drips’, the beat-less ‘Tidal Weight’ and the intricate ‘I Should Have Read’, which hearkens towards Talk Talk’s ‘the Colours of Spring’, but it’s the gloopy synth-pop of songs like ‘Be Right Back’ and ‘In N Out’ that truly charms. The former elaborates that most telling of ephemeral, internet-age acronyms with clever lyrics and noodling riffs; the latter describes attempts to surpass the friend zone with massive crossover potential. Dutch Uncles have exhibited a sluggish and rigid rise to fame, similar in that respect to Future Islands. But ‘O Shudder’ could well be the album that breaks them. Prone to captivating body-jerking himself, Dutch Uncles frontman Wallis may become this year’s Samuel T Herring and acquire his own hip-twisting dance meme. Well, we can hope. Someone get Letterman on the line.  

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