Cadenza is out on Monday 25th April
To many outside the city, Manchester is remembered and to some extent revered for its loutish lad-rock phase, the pinnacle of which has to be Oasis’ gritty celebration of Cigarettes and Alcohol. Some acts seek to cling on to this hedonistic era as much as possible, with a mixture of self-taught arrogance and immaturity, rather than ability, in abundance. Cadenza, however, is a further sign of the recent coming of age. It sits nicely next to Everything Everything’s exceptional debut, Man Alive, as being another piece of forward thinking, avant-indie. This is a record as brilliantly well-crafted as it will prove to be esoteric.
Math-rock, prog-indie, call it what you will, but their sound is best illustrated on stage when front-man Duncan Wallis dances around like Bez on a bad trip. It’s unusual, intricate, a little unnerving, and yet undeniably innovative. Couple this with the recent single, Face In, and the accompanying video in which he plays the part of the bride at a wedding, and you will understand why on first impression Dutch Uncles can be a little disconcerting. The rapid tempo changes and daedal rhythmic patterns are overwhelming as much as they are breathtaking. Dressage will pull you from side to side as though the tea-cups at the fairground are being driven by Lewis Hamilton. But there lies the important thing, you realise this isn’t supposed to be a sedate twenty minute spin and then begin to fully enjoy the ride.
Once you come to terms with the feverish pace, each seemingly random squiggle aligns perfectly into a great work of art. Each song is crafted around a brilliant pop chorus which begins to stick with each repeat. Previous single, Fragrant, is the most accessible of the bunch, kicking in to a choral chant. This trick could have been drawn out in favour of radio recognition, but Cadenza sticks to its guns with obstinacy.
As a result each track is markedly different, with enough character to separate from the rest. Like a great painting, something new will stand out each time you return. The quartet harmonies which build throughout Dolli are an uplifting example of the unexpected quirks to be found within. Those who picked up 2010’s Love & Disaster compilation will already be familiar with the piano driven, jolting, OCDUC, or The Ink’s pop-synth backdrop. Elsewhere delecate xylophone swirls coulouring The Rub, are an aural treat, as is the closing crescendo of Zalo. The ability to make these intricacies seem so simplistic on the surface is what makes Cadenza such a fantastic record.
Having written these songs in a basement in Salford, and showcased them during Manchester’s In The City festival to a hugely positive response late last year, it is clear that there’s an audience for their intelligent indie. The only real issue is whether such a niche sound will attract the attention it deserves. The fact that this is such an uncompromising self-assured record is the reason we love it, but to many we fear it may appear to be double-dutch.
Words: Simon Butcher