Duke Special: Look Out Machines!

review duke x1 cong
Duke Special (he’s Irish and really called Peter) has been producing impressive pop albums for some time.

Rather like Rufus Wainwright, he can both hit and miss his target, though he’s never less than totally ambitious and it’s always lovingly produced.

This new album is a definite bull’s-eye. Opener Wingman sets the tone, his slightly falsetto vocals (he’s a bit Conor Oberst) mixing pleasantly with almost perfect pop music. Like Rufus Wainwright, this is very grown-up pop, with a lush sound, highly produced, and extensive use of strings.

We thought track two Elephant Graveyard was going to give us one of those all too rare special moments, when a track suddenly leaps out and hits you as brilliant; a song you need to play over and over. But not quite, and also not quite for track four In A Dive, which appears to be a mournful song about religion: “Jesus and his blood don’t mean so much any more / Something must’ve died in this rotten apple core”.

Also nearly leaping out as brilliant was the more electronic Son Of The Left Hand. But all this is possibly a good thing, because it means the tunes will survive repeated plays rather than being five-minute wonders (see Echosmith, below).

About jerobear

Weekly newspaper editor in Cheshire, England. I blog my editorials and the CDs I write about. I play drums, drink coffee, play music, meditate. I hate filling in forms.

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