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The Duckworth Lewis Method
Artist: Duckworth Lewis Method
Label: Independent (www. www.thedivinecomedy.com)
Time: 12 Tracks / 40 mins
This album keeps making me smile. Not in a vacuous, banal, nicely-nice way, but more in a cheeky, lost-in-whimsical-wonder, the-fun-they-must-have-had-with-this-project sort of way. I only have to think of the disc and a grin begins to grow. Why? Because this is all about cricket, at least as much as Midsomer Murders is about solving crimes. While cricket is ostensibly the theme, the real point is the witty way that this pair celebrates it.
The two are the Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon and Thomas Walsh from Pugwash. Both are Irish, so they are close enough to the English to catch the nuances of our love of cricket, but slightly removed enough to see the oddities of both game and nation. They do to the English in music what Bill Bryson’s Notes From a Small Island did to us in writing.
The music and lyrics bat against each other to be the best, but it is a five-day draw. The memorable tunes are remarkably summery and the musical styles are appropriate, changing like the weather to suit the song. The innuendo-led “Sweet Spot” has the groove of Goldfrapp’s chartier side, but “Mason on the Boundary” lives in a musical world somewhere between Caravan and Icicle Works; while “Rain Stops Play” catches the unsophisticated feel of incidental music on TV, when there is no action, but revs it up with a rhythm reminiscent of Hannon’s own “National Express”.
Good as the music is, it is the punch of the lyrics that really knocks me out. With what other album this year could you walk into a room to hear the line, “If it had been a cheese roll, it would never have got past me”? That comes from “Jiggery Pokery,” a Flanders and Swann type song about when Shane Warne bowled Mike Gatting out first ball in the 1993 Ashes at Old Trafford (I don’t have to remember it – all the details are in the song). They describe a confident Gatting:
I took the crease to great applause and focused on me dinner
I knew that I had little cause to fear their young leg spinner
who, after being bowled out, considered it to be
Jiggery pokery, trickery jokery, how did he open me up?