Mourners of the death of the enlightened pop song should look no further than sprightly Indie-pop groovers Dutch Uncles. Although flying somewhat under the radar prior to the release of 2013’s Out of Touch In The Wild, the Manchester foursome have always shown an incredible knack for marrying 80’s style songwriting with modern themes to create what could easily be described as the perfect contemporary pop song. It is to the band’s credit then, that despite the potential game-changing success of their said third album, their latest release O Shudder bears no exception.
Carrying on where it’s predecessor left off, the record is a loose examination of the group’s own awareness of ascending adulthood (in this case turning 30) executed in an analogous, if slightly more mature fashion. Rather than relying on pedestrian chorus hooks or over-sampling, Dutch Uncles stick to what they know best, namely catchy melodies, quirky delivery, and intelligent composition. Brilliantly thematic, covering issues from looming parenthood (‘Babymaking’), to job interview anxiety (‘Decided Knowledge’), to social media (‘Upsillon’), O Shudder engages as a lyrical entity without ever deviating from its sense of fun.
A splendidly arranged and notably fine-tuned sound is also apparent, but perhaps the band’s greatest strength is their stringent ability to effortlessly switch the dynamic of a song at any given point. The capricious nature of tracks like ‘Babymaking’ and ‘Drips’ are testament to this, while the upbeat funky melodies of ‘In n Out’ and ‘Be Right Back’, contrasted with the mournful undertones of ‘Given Thing’ provide welcome variety and balance. If O Shudder does have one achilles heal it is the uniformity of its mid-section, a rare lackadaisical point in the record, but in the context of the greater body of material, this is a small price to pay.