Sometimes, and not often, a great album needs to be more than a collection of great songs. Songs that capture a fleeting feeling and work excellently as standalone compositions won’t, for all their brilliance on a mix-tape, necessarily make a compelling collection; this is the issue that plagues Cadenza. A quick listen to almost any one of the 11 tracks that comprises this often frustrating, sometimes fantastic album, is an enjoyable mini-romp, as a whole however, they suffer from repetition and a lack of colour.
This is not to say Cadenza is an unpleasant album; the melodies, although similar throughout are distinct in the sense that they all feel like they belong exclusively to the singer; there is no doubt that Dutch Uncles have carved out a style and owned it, it’s just that your soon willing them to try something a little different.
Dutch Uncles are more than comfortable in the company of unusual time signatures as the tracks jerk and stutter, calling for your attention; this initially compelling effect is soon diminished however as the rehash of chops quickly saturates it. The guitar lines weave confidently above the admittedly excellent rhythm section, in a manner that will no doubt prompt comparisons to Everything Everything. However, for all its astute delivery, Cadenza contains a fraction of Man Alive’s natural quirk and humour. A fairer comparison would be that of Hot Hot Heat, or Egyptian Hip Hop performing straight-laced Hot Club De Paris tracks.
Thankfully, tracks such as the delightfully odd ‘Dolli’ help raise the album significantly, exposing a more delicate side to the vocalist’s delivery. Beautifully supported by synthesized vocals, the subdued chorus of “You know I’m a bird/You know I’m a bird” is alarmingly pretty and completely at odds with much of the album as a whole.
Despite Cadenza’s shortcomings, it would be completely unfair to dismiss this album. Tracks with a more left-field approach come off stronger, such as the mischievously catchy ‘Fragrant’; the frantic ‘Dressage’, with it’s clownish middle sections; and the glockenspiel-led ‘The Rub’, all stand out in particular as tracks breathing with just a touch more individuality. A tendency to lapse into a familiar stuttering piano hooks, and a reliance on melodies that at times might as well have been lifted from other tracks has however, hindered this album from achieving the brazen brilliance it so clearly aspires towards. This is a shame, because the charm of each song is undisputable, but sometimes, and not often, a great album needs to be more than a collection of great songs.
Released on 25th April 2011 by Memphis Industries