Dutch Uncles are a canny five-piece band from Manchester whose new album 'Cadenza' lights up the sky as though a burning match had been inadvertantly dropped into a box of fireworks. Kazzzoooosh!
There are eleven numbers in the collection and their management of complex, left-of-centre time signatures, energetic ensemble arrangements and well-managed vocal harmonies is highly idiosyncratic. There's a prog(ish) spirit at work here which takes me back to the heady days of the seventies from time to time but the backbone of jangly Mancunian indie is also alive and well in their well-wrought compositions. It's musically intelligent stuff but gets the toes tapping too.
Michael Hann of The Guardian compares singer Duncan Wallis's shrill vibrating falsetto to Hot Chip's Alexis Taylor and he's not far off the mark but I found myself thinking about Sparks' Russell Mael on more than one occasion. Either way it's a highly distinctive voice.
Things get off to a rip-roaring start with title track 'Cadenza'; a full-bodied stomper which ducks and dives like a bumper car. The juxtaposition of ringing guitar, loping percussion and high-slung vocals would not have sounded out of place on an early Yes album.
'Dolli' takes a mellower route to its final destination; an exotic mixture of pulsing vocal harmonies and minimal instrumentation.
'Orval' is a real beast of an invention. Galumphing along like a panzer division but with intervals of light and shade to add variation and layers of additional sonic interest. Sterling stuff!
The musical box opening of 'The Rub' gives way to one of the band's loveliest ideas. Lyrical, intriguing and full of glowing alchemical light.
Final track 'Zalo' is perhaps the weakest confection in the bunch and a somewhat curious choice with which to wind up the show but despite this small caveat 'Cadenza' is overall a very fine piece of work indeed.