They say that opposites attract, a theory that Dutch Uncles have come close to proving on their latest album, O Shudder. They have married jangly indie pop sounds with honest stories of teenage angst which meet to make an endearing, purposefully awkward coupling. The record tells of the cringey and painfully relatable moments we may wish to forget, but provides somewhere to indulge in the musical creativity that they’ve now become.
For those of the alt-J persuasion, O Shudder tinkers with rhythm in the same experimental way, and like their successful albums, Dutch Uncles’ output has amassed a range of complicated, layered sounds too. ‘Be Right Back’ and ‘Decided Knowledge’ are sprightly and nimble, they stand out as the pioneers of the electronic, bubbly nature championed by the record. ‘I Should Have Read’ has a beautifully complex melody, and ‘In N Out’s twinkly vibe masks its sexual frustration.
Dutch Uncles’ frontman, Duncan Wallis, is well-known for the genderless sound of his vocals – his voice refuses definition and this allows him to be unrestricted in his expression. His voice is the reason the album becomes even more accessible, even more able to transcend the boundaries of what we understand to be conventional indie pop. Instead of being a tweely dressed group who reminisce about tales of dancefloor heartbreak, they look at the more bitter experiences of growing up.
The northern five-piece have stayed true to the distinctive style that it has taken them four albums to refine. The newest export picks up where their previous albums left off, but has evolved into something that will help them capture the attention that has eluded them up to now. Listening to this album is most definitely a worthy pastime, and hopefully it will encourage those just discovering Dutch Uncles to look back to their old work and celebrate that too.