Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Dutchess and the Duke

I couldn't deal emotionally with The Dutchess and the Duke's debut album. I loved every note of it but every note of nihilist folk-pop misery also made me want to crawl out of my own skin and under a rock. Or kill my parents. One or the other. Maybe it was because the sound was so spare: miserly percussion and acoustic guitar. There was hardly anything between me and the gouge-your-eyes-out beautiful lyrics

The lyrics are no better on their second album Sunset/Sunrise. "Never Had a Chance" and the title-ish track, "Sunrise/Sunset," definitely makes me want to die with words and music. But somehow I find the album overall a little easier to take than the first. Psych-folk magus Greg Ashley produced and contributed vocals and all kinds of things like keyboard that you didn't hear on the first album. I thinks it's his influence that led things in the direction (with strings and various studio atmospherics and a dash of girl-group cheese) of cushioning the fundamental psychological brutality of this band. Either that, or I've built up a tolerance. But no, "Scorpio" was previously released and this version just isn't as evil. Perhaps, some of the new song lyrics are more thoughtful but they are no less cruel.

Usually, I don't vote in favor of cushioning blows but Sunset/Sunrise is an absolute aesthetic triumph. And at least now there is a Dutchess and the Duke album I can sort of cope with.


7inchatlanta said...

I like them, but The Fe Fi Fo Fums and Sultanas were so good that I think both of them are capable of something better than their first album. I haven't heard this one yet, but I am expecting more of the same.

Bev said...

It's a bit different.