If consistency, reliability and frequency of output were any measure of a band then Dutch Uncles would be top ten with every release. The Stopfordian band's first album came back in 2009 and they've been dropping one bi-annually, in the first third of the year, ever since. The band's latest offering, 'Big Balloon', is another finely balanced album of high quality brushes with premium pop and sonic adventures into an ever broadening musical palette.
Dutch Uncles new ten track album is an up beat affair, fresh as spring air and bristling with a nervous energy. There are some truly brilliant bass lines, a tight percussive edginess and the ever excitable vocal stylings of front man Duncan Wallis. The album takes you through all manner of musical arrangements evoking the hedonism of 80's New York where infectious sing-a-longs rub big shoulders with some quirky but masterful and individual nuisances.
From the bounce of any ad-mans dream, 'Big Balloon', the title track itself, sets out to entertain, surprise and engage in equally large amounts. The breezy pop is full of infectious momentum brilliantly put together with a fabulous jagged guitar riff and superb dancing bass line. The all to brief, 'Oh Yeah' is similarly charged with a sugar rush of activity and is so packed full of hooks you are carried away on its wave of high octane harmonies.
'Big Balloon' is not just polished pop though. 'Achameleon' slows the pace, brings forth the keys and draws down Duncan's vocal from its high heady heights to a, ever so slightly, deeper range in a song with a balladic style evoking fond memories of The Associates. Elsewhere 'Combo Box' mixes up more of funky frenzy through another bubbling bass line and a frenetic set of joyously anxious interjections. Elsewhere, 'Street Light' starts off with more of an electro beat where the wash of vocals sit serenely over the pulsating score whilst 'Same Plane Dream' takes a more aggressive route with a mania that sways between the angry and the soft and gentle quite effortlessly.
Dutch Uncles are clearly their own band with their own sound and their own direction but it is fascinating to hear odd references such as Sparks, Blancmange, Scritti Politti, Vampire Weekend, Metronomy or even Talk Talk as you listen to the ten tracks. In fact, Dutch Uncles have so much going on throughout these tracks it is sometimes difficult to process. Rather like that phrase about children.."I like them but couldn't eat a whole one", this album is, for me at any rate, better in smaller pieces. However, there is no denying that this is a great album with plenty of great tracks that give up a little more upon each subsequent listen.