Saturday, 1 August 2009
The Duckworth Lewis Method
Never really got cricket. I completely understand the whole romance and nostalgia of the ‘whump of willow’ on the village green thing, the whole ‘the bowler’s Holding, the batsman’s Willy’, Garboldisham-road, PG Wodehouse and WG Grace vibe. It’s just that the game itself is perversely arbitrary and tedious, and watching it now, it seems to be a load of players dressed like American Footballers going to Gay Pride adrift in a sea of corporate sponsorship.
But Neil Hannon and Thomas Walsh’s The Duckworth Lewis Method is sublime. It’s a concept album about cricket but, thankfully, you don’t have to like cricket or know a single thing about it in order to appreciate the album.
That said, the songwriter’s love of the sport comes through clearly; much as I love The Divine Comedy, Neil Hannon has a habit of writing too ‘ironically’; his songs coming across as one-step-removed tongue-in-cheek exercises in pastiche and esoteric subject matter. In this case, although the songs are ostensibly about cricket, they’re about using it as a metaphor for something else – from the changing state of the world in The Age Of Revolution to sex in The Sweet Spot to lost love in The Nightwatchman.
While Neil Hannon is all over tracks like Jiggery Pokery – a Noel Coward-lite narration of Mike Gatting being bowled out in the 1993 ashes – Thomas Walsh seems to be more responsible for Gentlemen And Players, Mason On The Boundary and Flatten The Hay; all of which sound deliciously like 1980’s XTC (after spending the 1970’s releasing lazy Kaiser Chiefs and Franz Ferdinand rip-offs, XTC spent the 1980’s writing songs about hills).
All in all, if you like The Divine Comedy, or 1980’s XTC, or even if you just like cricket for some unfathomable reason, this is the album for you.