Though, on first impression, the female backing vocalists that populate Baxter Dury’s sixth solo LP might serve to further enhance the general aura of slinky, tantalisingly sleazy after-dark activity, after a few moments with ‘The Night Chancers’ you realise there’s something altogether less appealing going on beneath the cloak of seductive lounge and splashes of French fancy. “Who the fuck are you my friend?” they coo on ‘Saliva Hog’, as Baxter narrates of a “slobby spiv with an open shirt”. And really, it’s this atmosphere - one of tragic encounters, desperate characters and the teetering lifestyles of society’s outliers - that the Londoner has perfected over the past two decades. Yes, there’s something cheeky and inviting about the singer’s delivery and observational bon mots (“Carla’s got a boyfriend / He’s got horrible trousers and a small car”), but the world he paints on ‘The Night Chancers’ is not an aspirational place to be. ‘I’m Not Your Dog’’s propulsive electronic beat is the sound of escaping coolly down the motorway away from the crime, while ‘Slumlord’’s splashes of strings can’t mask the man with “soiled trousers” and “shiny cheekbones” at its centre. A master of eulogising the grubby underbelly, Baxter’s is the kind of voice that’s utterly out of step with the modern, fearful, social media-courting world, and all the better for it. Just take ‘The Night Chancers’ as a warning, more than an invite…
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