Positive Feedback ISSUE 66
march/april 2013

 

Walkintotheclublike: Duck. Little Brother, Duck!
by David Williamson

 

Duck. Little Brother, Duck

"Duck. Little Brother, Duck!" It might be a command or a suggestion, forceful or pleading. It could possibly be both, possibly at the same time, but it must be one of the two, for everything on display from this band is painstakingly deliberate. The meticulous pacing and atmosphere present from the first track of Don't Take Our Filth Away is carried like a guiding torch throughout the entirety of the album.

The band has a sound both vaguely familiar and refreshingly unique. What bands they invite comparison to are linked more because of their "feel" and less because of any musical similarities. In fact the more I listened, the more I was unable to pin down just what it was I thought I recognized. I can't quite tell you who their influences are and what they've lifted from them. I know I've heard those influences somewhere before, and yet figuring out where became less and less important the more I listened. That the album seems to have been composed with borrowed ingredients isn't troubling in the least. The music speaks for itself, loudly.

There's an unkempt looseness to many of the songs which seem to favor guitar noodling and distinctly random tempo changes over "structure." But the album's fluidity can't mask the purposeful song-to-song transitions that work to keep it cohesive. There is lovely shoe-gazer-y feedback layered over, around and behind an unrelenting beat only to be demolished by crescendos of guitars bludgeoning the same chord progression into the next song. Even the frequent shouting and screaming works, always seeming just at the edge of being over the top, but then allowing the music to pull it back at the last second. Whether it starts slowly and builds or begins furiously and diminishes, each song is unmistakably a forging, a single piece of work that has been hammered and quenched repeatedly in a pattern deliberately revealing the bandís artistic aesthetic.

Don't Take Our Filth Away doesn't approach the grandiose levels of operatic storytelling you'd expect with a band like Coheed and Cambria, but there's a feeling that it would be completely within their range if they so desired. It has all the frantic energy of My Chemical Romance without their elaborate theme-building or theatrically indulgent narration. It channels the straining earnestness of Sunny Day Real Estate in their prime. There's a progressive, driving quality to the song arrangements that makes you feel like they're going somewhere important, even if you don't know where that is. And I found myself wholly unconcerned with the destination. This album plays like the audio accompaniment to an indie-art house film, full of sweeping scenes out of moving vehicles of pastoral highways and countrysides. I wasn't concerned where they'd end up, because the ride was more always more important than the destination.

There was, disappointingly, a general feeling of "sameness" that grew for me towards the end of the album, though. It wasn't so much a matter of burn out or fatigue, but I did catch myself questioning if I'd heard this bit or that bit of a song earlier on. I never quite wished for the album to be over, but I found myself wanting that ever-elusive something more. I don't think that the album lost itself in repetition, but it seems that maybe when picking and choosing the songs for the album the band sacrificed moments for ambiance. It is an exquisite ambiance though.

A saving grace is that the best moments presented here perfectly compliment that wonderful ambiance. And I found those good moments to be so demanding of my attention that I began waiting solely for them, possibly at the expense of the rest of the music. Ultimately, it's those moments and ambiance, beginning to end, which sold me on the album. In an age of instantly-downloadable singles and one-hit bands, to find an album so intently crafted with such a sense of unity and purpose, is a delight.

For more, see http://topshelfrecords.bandcamp.com/album/dont-take-our-filth-away.

 

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