"Don't ever stray, 'cause there ain't no compromise"
While concept albums about cricket may not be the most obvious career move, The Duckworth Lewis Method seemed to be just the project that The Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon and Pugwash’s Thomas Walsh needed at that point in their respective careers. While Divine Comedy had enjoyed their commercial heyday as the 20th Century closed, their more sophisticated material since had seen them reduce the amount of lighthearted humour. Pugwash, although never enjoying any chart action had built a reputation on their high-quality psych-flecked power-pop.
Okay, so why would a pair of the finest pop songwriters to come out of Ireland decide to make a concept album about what has been considered a traditionally English sport. Simply because they could, and they’d make a far better job of it than any of their contemporaries.
While a power-pop song like “Sweet Spot” works well outside the format of The Duckworth Lewis Method self titled debut, it is very much in the minority, as emphasised by “Jiggery Pokery”, a number for which the term ‘novelty tune’ would be significantly underselling its charms, but which loses a certain amount of its impact when listened to in isolation. “Meeting Mr. Miandad” somehow manages to find a happy medium between the two extremes, which makes it the obvious choice for a single which was representative of it’s parent album’s charms.
Quite how well The Duckworth Lewis Method would translate internationally, particularly in countries where cricket is not woven into the national psyche, is a matter for debate. Then again The Duckworth Lewis Method is not the kind of album that acts release expecting massive global success, instead it is the type of album that is written and recorded as a pet project, just to prove that it could be done, and to have fun in the process.
Yes, The Duckworth Lewis Method is a fun album, but it’s also packed full of sweet melodies (“Mason on the Boundary” is a career highlight for both Walsh and Hannon), accessible tunage, a cameo from Matt Berry, and plenty of songs that seem to draw their inspiration from The Dukes of Stratosphear. It’s an idiosyncratic album, but one that is loaded with charm and replay value, even if you’re not a fan of cricket.