Album Review: Duologue – Never Get Lost

By on Wednesday, 10th September 2014 at 12:00 pm
 

This week sees the release of London band Duologue‘s second album. Their 2012 debut ‘Song & Dance’ featured the epic ‘Cut and Run’ and the wholly mesmerising ‘Machine Stop’, so the question was always going to be, in what direction would the band going to go for album #2? Even having listened to ‘Never Get Lost’ a couple times, I’m still not sure myself, as the songs contained within it vary from track to track in tempo and mood. The best description I can come up with so far is that like some of Broken Bells‘ music, it sounds like Duologue were trying to make a record that sounded like it had come from another world or at the very least by seriously unconventional means, which I realise could be take either as a compliment or insult, depending on the company.

The two early teasers from the band this summer were certainly intriguing. The suitably electronic geek-titled ‘Drag & Drop’ shows off singer Tim Digby-Bell’s soulful yet at times nearly desperate vocals, while the glitchy wub wub wubs and big beats go on as if in indifference to his emotions. It’s pretty brilliant. ‘Forests’, which we gave away in mid-June in this previous MP3 of the Day post, features a catchy, shuffling electronic rhythm that draws you in. Important to note are Digby-Bell’s expansive vocals in its chorus, in addition to the overall feel of the song, is much gentler than those of ‘Drag & Drop’. But what of the other tracks on ‘Never Get Lost’?

The album begins rather darkly and in a brooding way with ‘Memex’. The electronics are minimised on this track, presumably to invite the listener in slowly but surely into the world that Duologue has woven so carefully. Shortly after the 3 and a half minute mark, the song is thrown into urgency, as electronics essentially take over the album. ‘This is Happening’, with its sardonic synth line and its all-pervading sinisterness, it is one of the album’s standouts as a memorable slow groove. Whoever decided to place ‘Drag & Drop’ after it deserves a gold star, as the pair of songs sound perfect one after another.

Going back to that alien feeling, ‘All Night Shows’ in the middle of the LP is the most otherworldly of the bunch. If you’re an electro head, I can see you digging this. I couldn’t imagine myself listening to it often, only when I was in the mood, but I can appreciate the effort. But for anyone else, I suspect it sounds overdone, overwrought and over the top and in some ways, entirely inhuman as it squeaks and squeals its way to its end. Rhythmically engaging ‘Traps’ also falls into this alien music category. Contrast these songs with the album’s last two tracks and most of ‘Departures’ and the first third of ‘Parts of the Blame’, which showcase more conventional pop songwriting structures. Are we still listening to the same album?

The schizophrenic ‘Siblings’ is a good example of where this album falls flat: it’s admirable with its many layers of textures but nevertheless, it lacks focus. For sure, there are some great electronic beat heights and some truly wonderful moments on ‘Never Get Lost’. But if one looks at the sum of its parts, it feels like this album might have done better with a case of less is more. Any electronic artist will tell you the most difficult part of creating music is self-editing.

7/10

Duologue’s second album ‘Never Get Lost’ is out now on Wild Game Records.

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