This is no fresh-faced, bouncy, youthful album; the band’s experience and hard graft is evident from the first track, a guitar rock/electronica love-in, expertly combined with no hint of awkwardness or confusion. The Radiohead comparisons have been many, and that’s due largely to vocalist Tim Digby-Bell’s strong but thoughtful and considered vocals, all lingering falsetto and understated vibrato; basically, at times, he sounds an awful lot like Thom Yorke. Specifically, like Yorke’s debut solo album ‘The Eraser’ because of the machine-like precision of the digital beats and bleeps. Even in this comparison, though, Duologue feel undersold, or at least under-explained.
Their crowning glory is the ease with which they infuse all of this electronics with rock, happily sitting alongside some welcome moments of quiet. Stonking riffs one minute, many of them begging to be sampled and remixed, precede soothing, pensive lullabies. So many seemingly conflicting influences and genres collide and produce something unexpected and brilliant, kind of like maple syrup and bacon. You’re a bit sceptical as you pull the plate dubiously towards you, but shortly afterwards you find yourself exclaiming, moist pancake crumbs spewing through your teeth, ‘Bloody Nora, this is excellent. Where’s more? I want more. Now.’
Let’s take ‘Gift Horse’ as an example. Its frantic post-dub opening prepares you for an electronic onslaught, only to be suddenly accompanied by guitars, some strings and a pensive vocal. Surprising, and surprisingly effective. ‘Underworld’ again subverts the typical singer-songwriter formula; the lyrics aren’t going to change anyone’s life, but their repetition coupled with some inspired production makes for a hypnotic and irresistible musical experience. The six-minute foot-tapper ‘Push It’ ebbs and flows without losing momentum and is undeniably feel-good - a great summer song, despite its January release.
What Duologue should be most proud of in ‘Song & Dance’ is the variety and the consistently high quality. It pulls together so many styles that most people will hear something they like here. And that’s no mean feat.