On Duke Pandamonium, AKA How Many Similes Can I Fit In An Album Review?

14 Jul

Duke Pandamounium, the second album from weirdo Scots Marmaduke Duke, is kind of like Napoleon – short and absolutely mad (1). For £8.95 for the CD from a certain online retailed that rhymes with blay.com you get little over half an hour of tunes, but nearly every second is a delightful mash-up of most musical genres under the sun. Except RnB, but that’s ugly and smells of wee anway.

Opener Heartburn only has three lines of lyrics, repeated numerous times to fill up time (taking a few pages from the Rage Against the Machine school of songwriting) but luckily it’s got some fine instrumental backing that’s catchy but almost haunting, like a ghost with herpes (2). Everybody Dance is much better – I don’t dance much so will most likely not heed this song’s advice, but the bassline is impossibly groovy and towards the end nose-dives from disco call-to-arms to a brilliantly ridiculous funk-rock beatdown, smashing its face into the floor then getting up and doing the robot, still with blood pouring from its nose (a metaphor, so doesn’t count).

Silhouettes sounds too much like a Biffy Clyro B-Side to warrant moist-eyed praise, though probably because one half of Marmaduke Duke is the frontman of Biffy Clyro. I actually promised myself before I started writing this that I wouldn’t mention Biffy Clyro, and it seems I’ve failed already. In my defence, BC are great at everything. Objectively.

Onto Music Show, then, which is a bit like eating a very peculiar trifle (3). You’re listening to what is essential several layers of music after the other – the first, which I deem Pretty Good, is dreamy and uses what I think are sitars, but aren’t sure because let’s be honest I’m thick. The second is a lot thinner in the song trifle, and is Okay But A Bit Jarring, with ker-azy shouted chanting, and the third – Utterly Brilliant – is one minute and five seconds that shames 90% of the rest of the album. Slap bass, multiple instruments I don’t even know, and nearly every other vocal line from the rest of the song gel surprisingly well, and the result is like being trapped in a huge industrial machine that makes 200 disco balls a minute (4).

Kid Gloves is almost equally good, a more restrained effort that hovvered just outside the top 100 earlier this year like a slow bee waiting for the crowd of faster but kind of annoying bees to disperse from a honey pot (5). It deserves better – this song has quality layered vocals in spades and effective use of organ-like keys. It won’t make anybody cry but you might need a hug afterwards.

Demon is a bit too long (ironic considering what I’m about to say about Rubber Lover) but if fatigue is a problem then the dual guitar widdling of Erotic Robot will lift your spirits, and the rest – apparently made in a lab to be the most clappable song ever – is a bizzare tribute to gaelic decadence, though unlike most songs of this nature  it never makes  the performers seem unlikeable (choice lyric: “Erotic, robotic, despite the accent we’re Scottish”).

I won’t pretend to know what Je Suis Un Funky Homme is about, but that doesn’t mean I can’t love the falsettos (like the Bee Gees, but less punchable (6)) and the coda busts out some acoustic guitars – this album isn’t all about drug trips and dancing. You need something for the mature lot. Still weird though.

Unlike Kid Gloves, Rubber Lover did quite well when thrown to the Radio 1 dogs, and can be heard in Currys Digitals accross the nation if my experience is any indication. Of course, this might be due to the infectious riff (there’s only one but it’s fantastic) which sadly will only bring less than a couple of minutes of funky joy. To be blunt, this song is too short – I want that riff, that chorus and that little piano noodle halfway through to last forever. It is, by some margin, the best song about blow-up sex dolls ever written.

It’s hard to describe Skin The Mofo – I can only really say it sounds like being harassed by Tenacious D’s Time Goblin on a Jamaican beach (7) and he’s hired a barbershop quartet to sing the names of musical notes at you (8), but only appears for twenty seconds every two minutes (9). But is it good? Certainly is. But is the album good?

Certainly is. If I had to rate it on a scale of 1 to 10, I’d be inspired by the Duke’s own peculiar but ultimately fun mentality, say “Fuck that” and give FORTY-NINE OUT OF FIFTY-EIGHT BAGPIPES.

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