“Holy Jesus. What are these goddamn animals?”
Well, they are Duke Raoul, presumably named after the Hunter S. Thompson drug munching character in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and other works. Part of Brighton's Prime Cut Music and Anti Ghost Moon Ray families, the four-piece band have a neat cover of the late Gerry Rafferty's solo hit Baker Street plus Esben and the Witch and Erland and the Carnival support credits to their name and now, a shiny new EP.
The four tracks which make up the fifteen minute long Young Starlings recording have just enough in them to demonstrate a lurking talent, with solid structure to each number and the lilting haunt of singer Alex Painter's singing throughout, akin to something of a Chris Martin and Kele Okereke hybrid.
The flow of tumbling tom rolls and muted guitar runs in opener 'Cloak and Dagger' set the tone nicely for the EP, a gentle fall through sweet harmonies, offset at the all right points by Painter's occasionally (pleasant) piercing style.
In contrast, the blunt start to the song 'Young Starlings' is faster, darker and more fleet of foot. A handful of well-worked key changes throughout the verses and fuzzier, twisting blasts of rhythm guitar underpinned by a consistent bass – perhaps the point where the band's Sonic Youth and Bowie influences can be heard – all result in a tight and melodic track.
'Break Up Your Routine' is a little more of the same; steady, dependable and well meted background vocals, a hypnotic backbeat of differing textures and levels and a straightforward formula, whereas final track 'Made of Magic' is altogether cockier and upfront - amps are set in Fuzz Lightyear mode, crash cymbals meet their maker and Painter is a little more unpredictable and raw, making for one hell of a dirty, grubby and pretty satisfying finale.
The Young Starlings EP is, in a few parts and maybe intentionally, a little fuzzy production wise meaning some of the vocals and arrangements disappear under rolls of bass and mid-range fat. Overall though Duke Raoul should be proud owners of a decent recording and certainly a unique sound. As Raoul Duke may have put it, “Too weird to live, and too rare to die”.