There’s one thing Dutch Uncles can never be accused of and that’s a lack of thought. Their third album, Out of Touch in the Wild, is clearly crafted with a sharp intelligence enforcing each note and a clear astuteness behind every lyric sung. It seems that with this album, Dutch Uncles, have earnt their place alongside fellow Manchester smart-indie boys Everything Everything – and perhaps even surpassed them purely because it was so unexpected.
‘Pondage’ is perhaps not the easiest album opener to listen to – it’s not immediately accessible. There’s something melancholic about it at first with the simplistic piano and Duncan Wallis’ vocals that almost ghost along the surface and then, in true Dutch Uncles style the tempo shifts and builds… But it never quite reaches the crescendo. ‘Bellio’ however is more welcoming, with its frantic-yet-restrained guitars and harmonised “I’ve made it all come back to this/smile at the bodies” which cuts across the track with a precise clarity.
They haven’t departed from the ease in which they can encourage people to move either. ‘Flexxin’ combines sharp Morse code-esque violins and synths with the continuous pirouetting guitars to create something that is both soulful and danceable. ‘Fester’ has a glockenspiel enforced rhythm which taps at you insistently until it spills out onto the piano too in the final crescendo.
‘Threads’ almost is as much as title as it is a description of the track. It is entangling, and wraps the listener in a flurry of different instruments that seamlessly work so well together and yet remain inherently distinct. There’s almost an addictive quality to this song, just because it takes so long for you to try and fathom any of it out. The problem is there is a point towards the end where the vocal effects make some of it sound like Miike Snow has suddenly appeared – and given Wallis’ perchance for vocal airiness, I can’t help but wonder why.
Moving on, bizarrely named ‘Zug Zwang’ (‘a compulsion to move’ in German apparently), zig-zags around the place with its’ cascading tempos and instruments – and whilst that sounds erratic, Dutch Uncles keep it in check. Every time you think you’ve got a handle on the track, it shifts and changes, ensuring you’re listening for the entirety of the 5 minute run time.
My personal favourite of the album ‘Nometo’ contrasts beautifully against the contemplative ‘Phaedra’ before it. It bursts to life in splashes of bright guitars against the ever faithful glockenspiel with Duncan Wallis’ vocals effortlessly sliding in to place. It just feels expansive and all-encompassing.
With Out of Touch in the Wild it can take you a while to feel in touch with it if you’ve never travelled with Dutch Uncles before; but once you do it will take you through a wilderness full of sounds you’ll find yourself being drawn back in to.