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Dutch Uncles: O Shudder

Modern North-West art-pop at its finest.

It’s odd that Stockport’s Dutch Uncles are six years and four albums in without yet breaking through to the big time, as they seem to have everything the high-flying Metronomy or Wild Beasts have, only more so.

Witty and musically smart, they remain a well-kept secret, despite fans ranging from Field Music to Paramore. O Shudder is their best yet, a near-perfect art-pop set that doesn’t just claim to be inspired by Kate Bush, The Blue Nile, Prefab Sprout and Japan, but sublimely demonstrates it as fact. Duncan Wallis’ elegant, androgynous voice lilts through a series of pert yet adventurous songs in which the protagonist (a version of himself) frets about reproduction, social media, health, terrorism, love and identity. Babymaking is like an astute reframing of something from The Dreaming, while In N Out is what might happen if King Crimson covered China Crisis. Lyrically wry and thoughtful, the album transcends ‘indie-synth with harp and strings’ terrain to flesh out the world of a hungry, flawed everyman, blending musical economy and (that voice!) near-operatic flourishes. O Shudder is the sound of a band in peak form, getting every decision right. May justice prevail.

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.