Duologue - Song & Dance
Duologue must have some serious pulling power, because the opening track on their debut album features vocals by Thom Yorke. Or at the very least, Thom Yorke's doppelgänger. In fact, it's frontman Tim Digby-Bell who drives 'Machine Stop' with his uncannily similar vocal. On the whole, that particular song sounds like a lost Radiohead b-side, but it's a striking way to kick things off, showing that the quintet are able to transcend their influences. Song & Dance has been a while in the making, but its meticulous-sounding songs indicate that it was most definitely a labour of love. It blends rock and electronica in a manner reminiscent of - yes, again - Radiohead, but the London five-piece are no mere copyists, as their sound is clearly all their own. Digby-Bell's haunting falsetto adds an extra layer of dramatics to proceedings, best deployed in the band's flagship song, 'Cut and Run', which closes the first quarter of the album.
It's from here that the band's sonic palette widens considerably, with a high-tempo pattering beat underpinning the dazzling acoustic track 'Gift Horse', on which the band make use of unexpected combinations of instruments. The swooping strings that run through the track place it firmly in ballad territory, but the band's sense of song-craft elevates it from run-of-the-mill into an excellent piece of work. It's not necessarily what one would expect from the band, and that's why it has such a great effect. At the other end of the album, there's the surprisingly heavy-sounding 'Snap Out of It', which is the most guitar-driven song on the record, but is given a cinematic quality by another appearance of those strings. It's a credit to Duologue's musicianship that they can often display just as much power on record without going all-out: the heartbreaking 'Endless Imitation', written in the aftermath of a difficult break-up for Digby-Bell, strips things right back and proves that the band can hit home just as effectively when they keep things simple.
Blending electronic elements with rock music is definitely Duologue's 'thing', and they've taken enough time with Song & Dance that it doesn't feel rushed or forced in the slightest. This is an exceptionally inventive album from a band who originally started out sounding much different than what they've become (think of an album full of 'Snap Out Of Its' and you're about halfway to sussing their old sound - indeed, if not for the intervention of producer Jim Abbiss, it might have turned out this way) - so they've come an extremely long way in the years since their formation. The more dance-influenced 'Talk Shop' and 'Push It' (which, not to put too fine a point on it, sounds absolutely colossal) are examples of when the band's sound crosses the thin line between electronica and rock that it tries to tread for the whole album, but the idea of an even more electronica-based sound from Duologue for the second album is a tantalising prospect. This'll do just fine for now - it really is worth making a song and dance about.