Photo credit: Oliver Sangster
Dutch Uncles return after six years with ‘True Entertainment’, their sixth (!) album since 2009. Inspired by acts including Kate Bush, The Blue Nile and Ennio Morricone, the album features guest appearances from Metronomy’s Anna Prior and Everything Everything’s Jonathan Higgs while the sound continues to blend eminently danceable hooks with quietly complex melodies.
The title track opens the record with Duncan Wallis rambling about names rhyming with Superman and French teachers (‘Ohh la la, parfait!’ – all against a Prince-infused mix of futuristic funk, synths and handclaps. ‘Damascenes’ follows with fast beats and piano notes that veer close to math rock and compelling lyrics about the ‘speechless truth for me and you’. Following this is recent single ‘Tropigala (2 to 5)’, a song that’s addictive mantra of ‘2 to 5 – what a way to make no living’ was partly inspired by the band’s load-ins during leaner years. With instantly addictive melodies and so much sass, it’s quickly became a fan favourite, especially when Duncan reveals ‘You can really get the drinks in now’.
‘Exit Row’ exists in a dreamier space with its breezy bass-driven groove and revelation that there’s ‘Just no way of keeping the feeling to myself’, while ‘I’m Not Your Dad’ is full of personal observations about the effect Duncan’s parents splitting up had on him as a kid – and the new traditions and unfamiliar rituals that appeared in his life: ‘I’ve never heard of Christmas ham, the weekends two at a time, and nobody likes it like that. Don’t make me sing on New Year’s Eve. There’s people there I don’t believe’. ‘In Salvia’ finds a promise of ‘I’ll be there’ being delivered against a melancholic soundscape before the penultimate Roxy Music-esque ‘End Belief’ asks ‘Where’s the sense of innocence?’
The closing ‘Dead Letter’ is full of biting, dark humour (‘But give it a whoopty-doo from my dead Grandma to you’; ‘Your automatic song sounds of centrist gonorrhorea’) and melancholic moments delivered against subtle synth-pop sensibilities: ‘It’s such a cruel escape to feel whatever you say’. It’s a fitting end to an album that finds Dutch Uncles asking probing questions with their trademark wit and incredible hooks. ‘True Entertainment’ is another record to believe in.