Neil Hannon and Thomas Walsh’s second cricket-themed album is even better than the first, eponymous release, which appeared just before the 2009 Ashes.
The Duckworth Lewis Method
Divine Comedy Records, £13.99
Star rating: * * * *
Opening track Sticky Wickets seems to take its inspiration from Sticky Fingers, and Keith Richards’ syncopated guitar rhythms in particular. It also boasts copious helpings of cowbell to enhance that swampy feel, and a pseudo Jagger falsetto.
But the album as a whole is rich in British pop and even music hall tradition. The scent of Jeff Lynne is all over It’s Just Not Cricket and Third Man, while the production on Line And Length shares the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach of ABC, Robbie Williams and Frankie Goes To Hollywood producer Trevor Horn, whirring and blinking all over the place.
There is some beautifully crafted adult pop here, such as Out In The Middle, which seems to have been snatched from the gentlest imaginings of Crowded House’s frontman Neil Finn. Chin Music, meanwhile, is all pastoral French whimsy, a musical curtsy and cute kiss with the merest hint of the bawdy.
The song with the most overt cricket reference is Third Man, on which the scamps return to sumptuous ELO territory, coming across as mildly smug at the level of technical competence being displayed. It is a synthesised stylistic treat; if there is only the merest hint of some substance somewhere beneath the surface, these songs capture the essence of British summer like strawberries and cream – for those who enjoy that sort of sugary dairy delight.
Download this: Line And Length, Sticky Wickets