Concept album about cricket from Divine Comedy and Pugwash frontmen hits the sweet spot
Cricket seems to be very much the sport of the Irish zeitgeist at the moment, what with our national team not entirely disgracing themselves in the World Twenty20, Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland picking up major literary awards, and now this quirky concept album from Neil ‘Divine Comedy’ Hannon and Thomas ‘Pugwash’ Walsh. Released to coincide with this summer’s Ashes tour, it features no less than 12 original songs about the sport. Howzat for a wicket idea?
To the uninitiated, the ‘Duckworth Lewis Method’ refers to a complex mathematical system of calculating the target score for the team batting second in a one-day cricket match that’s interrupted by weather or other circumstances. Although the concept of making an entire album of songs devoted to the gentlemanly sport of leather and willows might seem rather offbeat, the combined talents of Messrs Walsh and Hannon ensure that it’s no mere one-listen novelty release.
It opens with the sound of birdsong, presumably recorded on a perfect summer afternoon, before ‘The Coin Toss’ decides whether Duckworth (Walsh) or Lewis (Hannon) steps out to bat first. This segues nicely into vintage sounding lead single ‘The Age Of Revolution’: “Always denied entry by the English gentry/Now we’re driving Bentleys, playing Twenty20.”
Fortunately, it soon becomes obvious that you don’t have to like, or even know the first thing about, cricket to enjoy some of this marvellously inventive album’s melodic, harmonious and poptastic delights. ‘The Sweet Spot’ is a Beatles/T.Rex rock ‘n’ roller featuring a guest appearance from Cathy Davey (‘Flatten The Hay’ is also decidedly Fab Four influenced). The brilliant ‘Jiggery Pokery’ tells the tale of the Gatting Ball (google it!) and features cameos from Phil Jupitus and Alexander Armstrong, while The Mighty Boosh’s Matt Berry contributes a spoken word piece to ‘Mason On The Boundary’. ‘The Nightwatchman’, meanwhile, is probably Hannon’s greatest character study since ‘Eric The Gardener’.
Overall, while DLM certainly won’t be everybody’s cup of tea, it’s cool as a cucumber sandwich. How it’ll compare to Oasis’s forthcoming album about the offside rule remains to be seen.
Key Track: ‘The Nightwatchman’
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