Duds, “Of a Nature or Degree”

Duds
Of a Nature or Degree
CASTLE FACE
6/10

With their signing to California’s Castle Face Records, Manchester band Duds became the first UK group on the label, giving them the unique ability to put their best foot forward without the weight of expectation from American audiences. On their debut LP, Of a Nature or Degree, that’s exactly what they do, like the new kid at school whose air of mystery is to their advantage.

The production is minimal, which is pretty much How to Make a Post-Punk Album 101: Just let the band do what they do. The more it sounds like someone put a mic in their practice room, the better. The songs on Of a Nature or Degree are exactly as long as they need to be, which is to say that they end when Duds are done wanting to play them and not a second later. They’re short and they’re fast. If you’ve seen them perform live in the UK, which they’ve done extensively over the last two years, or on the Internet, you know that Duds (who boast an expertly used cornet) can somehow pull these songs off even faster. They don’t come off as a band that tours to support a record. It’s more like they record to necessitate a tour.

There’s an expertise that comes from playing live as a unit constantly, and Duds display that by subtly switching things up with each song. The rhythms are tricky. Sometimes they’re bass-heavy. Sometimes it’s all drums. Sometimes, like on “Pro Tem,” the cowbell drives the whole thing. On “A Different Stage,” they channel Devo for the thirty seconds the song lasts.

Of a Nature or Degree is quite good, but it’s not groundbreaking, and that’s OK. It’s almost refreshing. This is spare, nervy music with no strings attached, and it’s a pleasure to listen to, albeit a quick one. 

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