The Duel – I'm on to you
What's that saying? Always a pleasure and never a chore?
Well that sort of sums up my relationship with The Duel. I've yet to hear anything by them that hasn't impressed, and unlike many other bands waving the punk flag you can always be assured that they're going to pull something a bit different out of the bag, and now that I come to think about it this is probably why to my mind they are one of the very few bands that could currently be described as a real punk band.
Isn't the whole ethos of punk about the celebration of self expression and foregoing the enforcing of boundaries on what you wish to do?
If that's an acceptable, albeit loose, interpretation then when you listen to The Duel you would probably agree with me.
They made a quantum leap in sound and style from their début “Let's finish what we started” to their sophomore release “Childish Behaviour” and from the evidence on the “I'm on to you” ep it looks like they are going to do it again on the forthcoming “All aboard the crazy train”.
The title track is awash with retro new wave keyboards that sound like they could have been sampled from the soundtrack of some glossy eighties thriller, but that's as far as the comparison could go as the meaty guitars and throaty vocals, while coming out of leftfield, really give it a whole new persona as a song. Personally I would have liked it to be a bit faster and I expect a live rendition will tick all the boxes, but that shouldn't be taken as a criticism as this is as fine an introduction to the band as you could ask for.
Meanwhile track two “Jump” is maybe a little bit musically bi-polar, but casually infectious with it. A bit like Betty Blue. You know there's something wrong there but you would embrace the madness anyway if you know what I mean.
At times it verges on a laconic conversational vocal delivery before the tempo quickens and it yelps into life and although you get the sense it shouldn't work there is no doubting that it does. The guitar work late on in the track deserves to be highlighted to as it's another prime example of how the band will not work within the framework of what is expected.
EP closer “Loneliness” is probably the track that will leave fans slack jawed though.
It sounds initially like Johnny Thunders has sat aside his guitar and forsaken it for the piano to give added emphasis to the cold and raw lyrics. There's a beautiful twang to the guitar when it does come in and over all the richness of the music complements the emotional delivery where Tara sounds racked with memories. Especially as the song fades out where in my best Lydon impression I could say “she means it maaaaaan”.
A glorious return and now I can't wait until the album proper gets its release.