I can’t believe I haven’t stumbled across Duke and the Darlings before now. They are high-energy indie with an old-fashioned charm that carries their guitar-led songs and leaves you with an infectious grin on your face.
Having formed in summer 2011, Champagne of the People is the Manchester quartet’s second EP. It follows their self-titled debut from May of last year, which earned them praise from ilovemanchester.com who said of them:
“The record companies are missing out here. They should be banging the door down -they are just that good.”
Indeed, the latest record is a fabulous showcase of the band’s songwriting abilities. It begins with Love’s Labour’s Lost, which starts with an atmospheric guitar. Melodic indie vocals come in and it takes on an upbeat summer rhythm. Metallic drums join and the quirky style continues. A bluesy riff takes hold just before the final chorus rounding it off in an old-school way.
Second is Whiter Than White, a retro indie classic. A catchy melody which will continue looping your ears for a long while afterwards is pushed along by a sing-a-long pop happiness. Although the title is referring to Class A drugs, there is no darkness or negativity depicted in the song. It simply jumps along its repetitive riff and drum beat, taking on a festival-ready, commercial style.
Don’t Need To is as downbeat as Duke and the Darlings get. Kooky scraping riffs with sad, drawn-out strums fill the intro and the backing harmonies create the signature retro indie feel. The guitar sings along to the melody, which is something I thought very clever. It’s a more chilled track but with a definite tinge of sadness instilled. It ends with electronic fuzzes which cause it to simply cut out.
Ending on Walk Away, which has the same retro vibe and indie vocal but another negative subject matter. It’s about being unlucky in love and being worried about a special relationship ending up the same. The drum rolls bring the drama of the situation while the catchy chorus makes sure you’re left with something to take away from the EP.
There is no doubt that it’s the perfect showing-off of Duke and the Darlings talents. It’s a very well put together EP with several stories told and a cool, professional vibe given off. They’re still a young band with so much more to give, so I hope they continue to produce some killer tunes.