Dutch Uncles: Big Balloon

review uncles x1 cong

This is Marple band Dutch Uncles’s fifth album. We thought we’d missed some early ones but it turns out we heard their first two, Dutch Uncles and Cadenza (both good, particularly the latter), and it was the next two that slipped under our radar. Not surprising: while Cadenza was quirky and charming, O Shudder (the last album) was a bit dull, we thought, the band letting slip its main attractions — quirky timings and androgynous vocals — for something smoother and more commercial.

This new one sees them all growed up. Quirky youthful indie has gone and instead it’s a beefier sound, somewhere between math rock and the arty prog of Field Music, though some songs, such as Same Plane Dream, hark back to Cadenza. It’s also a bit Bowie in places, particularly Combo Box or the start of Oh Yeah (the general feel is perhaps Low, but Combo sounds like Fashion).

The sound varies but features preciseness and odd time signatures interspersed with more poppy melodic sections. One song might feature the bass and kick drum moving jerkily together, another be piano-led and more tuneful. They’ve not only got their mojo back, they’re better.

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