Firstly, for anyone not in the know, The Duckworth Lewis Method is an Irish duo comprised of Neil Hannon (The Divine Comedy) and Thomas Walsh (Pugwash) and they describe this, their debut (and surely only?) album as "a kaleidoscopic musical adventure through the beautiful and rather silly world of cricket.". Yes, you read that right, it's a concept album about the sport of cricket. Wait, please come back, keep reading - it's much better than it sounds, I promise. In fact, if you're a fan of The Divine Comedy, you're more than likely going to love this extremely light-hearted, melodic album because, if not for Walsh's involvement, this could easily have been released under that moniker and nobody would have batted an eyelid. It may even have sold better, but that's pure speculation. If not for the Irish blood running throughout this release, you could be forgiven for saying that "The Duckworth Lewis Method" is a thoroughly English album - to be frank, because of the subject matter, I'm doubtful of the international appeal of their self-titled debut, but I could be wrong. I can see this being regarded as the "Village Green Preservation Society" for 2009.
Even if you're not well versed in the rules of or the characters in cricket, hopefully the music should be enough to keep you listening and appreciate what is on offer here. There are shades of classic and eccentric melodic rock in the vein of ELO, XTC, The Beatles, The Beach Boys and, perhaps not surprisingly, early Divine Comedy, all of which are more than apparent on the magnificent "Gentlemen and Players". The vaudeville elements of the album bring to mind Noel Coward, Paul McCartney and even Flanders & Swann in the case of the incredible "Jiggery Pokery", the hilarious story of the "Ball Of The Century" delivered by Shane Warne to a hapless Mike Gatting. It's a beautifully eclectic album as well, taking in electronically-enhanced glam-rock stompers such as the funny, double-entendre filled "Sweet Spot", the jazz-touches of "The Age Of Revolution", the sumptuous baroque, harpsichord pop of "Flatten The Hay" and the soaring ballad "The Nightwatchman" which seems to fit in somewhere between the realms of Scott Walker and Jeff Lynne at their headiest powers. Speaking of Jeff Lynne, there are very strong echoes of The Electric Light Orchestra on the album closer, "The End Of The Over" - very "Out Of The Blue".
Although I'm well aware that this record may not be everybody's cup of tea, personally, I love it and can't find fault with any of the contents at all. The whole project is played out with loving care, craftsmanship and irrepressible charm. Each and every track hits the sweet spot for me and I can't recommend it highly enough. Pardon the pun, but it's hit me for six. Well played, chaps!