Big Balloon by Dutch Uncles

Despite having the distinctive Dutch Uncles sound, that is, erratic, urgent rhythms, unusual dissonances, opaque and surreal lyrics, Big Balloon places electric guitar at the forefront of the soundscape.

After ex-guitarist Daniel ‘Sped’ Spedding left the band, lead singer Duncan Wallis stated that the they wanted “to make the most guitar driven record we could”. Although this act seems a little spiteful, the heavy electric guitar presence has added a previously unheard layer of swagger and grit. This feeling is furthered by the 80s style of tracks such as ‘Streetlight’ and ‘Sink’, which combine a techno sound with lots of funky bass grooves, whilst ‘Oh Yeah’ echoes the age old classic Footloose. The Salford outfit claim to have taken cues from Kate Bush’s The Red Shoes, David Bowie’s Low, as well as Eastern European techno, diverse influences that are all somehow tangible on the album, but synthesised into something far removed from the originals.

Dutch Uncles claim that one of their objectives for Big Ballon was to make ten songs that stand on their own, rather than a concept album. On first listening, the songs all sound quite similar due to the strength of Dutch Uncles’ unique sound. However, after multiple listenings, each track reveals its identity and tackles a different topic including austerity cuts, therapy, loneliness and of course, fried chicken.

Big Balloon doesn’t have any slow tracks, but the energy and vibrancy lasts right until the final song, ‘Overton’, which was the only disappointing song. Yet even on ‘Overton’ and more so on ‘Hiccup’, the animation in Wallis’ voice keeps each song sounding fresh.

Dutch Uncles embarked on their nationwide tour on 18th February and I would urge you to catch them- not only to experience the new album live but to witness singer Duncan Wallis’ inspired dance moves.

Emma Dutton

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