The Duckworth Lewis Method – Sticky Wickets
When you set out to write an album about cricket, you’d expect to be sent back to the pavilion pretty quickly. What exactly does rhyme with ‘googly’? When you set out to write a second album about cricket, then surely you’re going to be out for a golden duck? Well, two albums in, Neil Hannon and Thomas Walsh of The Duckworth Lewis Method have got a steady partnership going. Nothing’s taken too seriously. And there’s just enough to keep the scoreboard ticking over. The songs work best when the cleverness of the music and the lyrics combine. Here, there’s nothing quite as wonderful as ‘Jiggery Pokery’ from the previous album, but at times there are flashes. ‘Boom Boom Afridi’ has a beautiful instrumental break that’s interrupted by the genius idea of sampling David Lloyd at his most Lancashire. ‘Judd’s Paradox’ is simply poetic, “Sweet is the sound as leather bound the well-timed willow strikes”, and sounds beautiful too. ‘Line and Length’ is pure Thomas Dolby, musically and lyrically. ‘Chin Music’ breaks the rule in that it’s an instrumental, but one that a mid-1960s Brian Wilson would have been truly proud of. At times, the lyrics work, but the music is uninspired. ‘The Umpire’ is a work of pure pathos, “Take the wheel of my Escort, sixty-five, middle lane, Watch the Jags and the Ferraris, leave me in their wake again”, but scarcely troubles the musical scorers. ‘Mystery Man’ manages to pack a wonderful variety of deliveries into a four-minute over, “Yorker, seamer, bouncer, beamer, Doosra, slider, just can’t decide-er”, yet the musical delivery is well wide. ‘Out In The Middle’ is the opposite. The music hits the sweet spot, but the words slide down the leg side. And just sometimes, nothing quite works. ‘Nudging and Nurdling’ is utterly self-indulgent. An excuse to invite celebrity luvvies to Abbey Road Studios to record three words. The bottom line, though, is that The Duckworth Lewis Method have now produced the two best records about cricket ever. True, the competition isn’t intense. Think Clive Lloyd’s West Indies against Tony Greig’s England. But if you can get beyond the whimsicality of it all, there’s plenty of rewarding material. Hat-tricks, though, are very rare.