For those unfamiliar with them The Duckworth Lewis Method are a collaboration between Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy and Thomas Walsh of cult power pop act Pugwash. They’re a band boasting two top draw creative forces whose records just happen to be themed around cricket.
Now, on the surface, many might assume that you might not ‘get’ The Duckworth Lewis Method unless you are well versed in cricket. Given that the band’s songs are primarily concerned with that sport, that is partly true, however they’re still a great listen even if (like me), you know next to nothing about the game. A knowledge of cricket no doubt enhances the listening experience, but even with only the most basic passing knowledge, they’re still one of the finest baroque pop acts in living memory.
You may also wonder just how much music cricket might inspire, and to that I can only point to the fact that 2013’s Sticky Wickets was the band’s second album. Evidently the well of inspiration is deeper than many might assume.
There was a four year gap between The Duckworth Lewis Method’s eponymous debut and Sticky Wickets, and while their debut is a solid album of power pop, this follow up is more ambitious and diverse. Granted, not every one of the dozen tracks hits the spot as consistently as their debut album did, the highs are arguably higher, such as cheeky brilliant 10cc steal at the end of “The Umpire” the electro pop indebted “Line and Length” and “Third Man”‘s lovingly crafted Electric Light Orchestra pastiche. Other highlights include “Boom Boom Afridi”, the potentially awful “It’s Just Not Cricket” but saved by Hannon and Walsh’s way with a tune, and an ever welcome cameo from Matt Berry on “Mystery Man”. It should also be said, that while Hannon is marginally better known than Walsh, Walsh’s vocals and musicianship throughout both Duckworth Lewis Method albums have been such that it’s obvious that they are completely equal partners in the project, and that Walsh’s band Pugwash are an act that we all need to familiarise ourselves with.
As mentioned, there are a number of tracks which don’t quite hit the spot, but that might be more to do with my unfamiliarity with cricket than anything else. Taken as a whole Sticky Wickets is a deeply enjoyable album regardless of your familiarity with cricket, and ones mind has obviously considered what other sports that can be celebrated in such a joyous way. I’m now waiting with no small amount of anticipation to see who will step up to give us a whole album themed around darts.