Divine Comedy Records (label)
01 July 2013 (released)
01 July 2013
There's something gloriously archaic about The Duckworth Lewis Method. It's not that they're writing songs about cricket, which remains the bastion of traditional Englishness in spite of the increasingly 'rock-n-roll' nature of its superstars now England is finally winning stuff again.
No, it's that they sound like a timewarp to the 1970s, fusing modern production techniques with a sound closer in style to 10cc or ELO than your average rock band of the digital age. Theirs is a musical style which is crying out to be savoured with the gentle crackle and hum of a well loved vinyl album, and with their new long player, chances are you'd have bashed the corners of the sleeve from taking it off the shelf a bit too often.
As with their first, self titled record, the cricket theme feels more like a hook upon which to look at the world as it is today, with lead single It's Just Not Cricket typifying that by referencing bankers bonuses and the fall of Lance Armstrong. Similarly, whimsical ballad The Umpire uses the forlorn nature of a down-and-out cricket official to summarise how we all feel with our nine-to-fives on occasion, and the results - along with the cheeky 10cc reference at its climax - are a standout. Yes, the boys love the beautiful game, and for fans of cricket, there are references galore, but these never stand in the way of making good, inventive music which stands on its own two feet.
Across the album, the two contrasting styles of Duckworth and Lewis - as Neil Hannon and Thomas Walsh affectionately dub themselves here - fuse together with charming effect. Divine Comedy head honcho Hannon's baroque balladeering and jaunty rag-time is blended with the symphonic art rock that Walsh brings to his other project, Pugwash.
Each musician takes it in turns to sing across the album, and when their voices meet, the results are as smooth and summery as a honey sandwich and a glass of orange juice atop rolling hills. There's something enveloping in the combination, and perhaps nothing this summer will urge you to turn up the volume, stop what you're doing and just drift away in the same manner as Sticky Wickets.
Factor in guest appearances from the likes of Matt Berry, Stephen Fry and Danielle Radcliffe, and some excursions into Art Of Noise-esque pastiche and sprinklings of electro and funk, sitting side by side with jaunty pub singalongs, surf guitar solos and everything you loved about their first record, and The Duckworth Lewis Method have scored a Sixer. Marvelous.
Sticky Wickets is out now. You can see the video for It's Just Not Cricket below.