Album Review: Dutch Uncles – Out of Touch in the Wild

dutch_uncles-out_of_touch_in_the_wildThe first thing necessitating mention about five-piece Manchester indie band Dutch Uncles is that they compose their music using multiple time signatures. I am always wary of bands whose publicity seems to revolve around an element of novelty or gimmick, and while Out of Touch in the Wild, the band’s third full length album, is full of delightful chamber-pop frolic and playful hoity-toity funk, I cannot say I understand what the band is aiming for. Pop in its nature is meant to be catchy and repetitive, something which arrhythmic experimentation doesn’t quite lend itself to, and consequently the album’s songs always seem to be dancing around a feeling that they refuse to land on.

The opening track “Pondage” establishes a sort of gravitas with slow chord progressions, soft chimes and sentimental vocals before a puckering guitar skips over the swell of bittersweet strings. Instrumentally it proves intricate, but its mood is digressive, its picture out-of-focus. The next group of tracks, particularly “Bellio” and “Fester,” are brighter and more upbeat with capricious drum play, decorative xylophones and eager vocal flurries. Their layers all build symphonically, but a singular motif alludes them.

Exempt from this trend are the piano-plinking “Zug Zwang” and the amp-blown “Nometo,” tracks on the album’s latter half which both finally find climatic choruses, though the former takes far too long to get there and the latter disperses itself to willfully. And the album’s closer “Brio” receives an honorable mention for its devoted six-minutes of engaging Americana-flavored perambulation. But just because a song doesn’t adhere to rhythmical convention doesn’t mean it can’t be a good piece of pop; the album proves this with “Flexxin,” a fun fulfillment of orchestral whimsicality sporting sugary sweet vocals and adorable lyrics. It’s just that it’s harder to make a good one more often than not. As a result the album feels overall like a mode experimental dabble as opposed to a brilliant musical vision.

About author
Christopher Witte is a writer living in Los Angeles, CA, afflicted with an unhealthy obsession for independent genres of music.   Follow: @WittePopPress

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