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30 January 2013

Dukes of Stratosphear - 'Psonic Psunspot' (Virgin)

You who know me will know that I love me a silent 'P' so Psonic Psunspot wins on the title front for sure. This is the full-length by this moonlighting XTC psychedelic tribute band and it continues the pastiche of late 60's pop beauty with the same slightly silly lean. Compared to the EP, PP is a bit less buried in its own conceit. When Partridge, Moulding et al go more straight, such as the practically XTC-like 'Have You Seen Jackie?', there's some songs that stand up remarkably well outside of the context of this lark. Which is to explain why I own zero records by XTC (actually that's not true, but zero that I have listened to since the 90s) and both the LP and EP releases by the Dukes. I even used to have the 'You're a Good Man Albert Brown' 12", a bit of unnecessary collector completism. Said tune is a pounding, piano ballad recalling Ray Davies circa Something Else, but almost regal in it's brassy, British class-eye.  'Shiny Cage' actually reminds me more of the Olivia Tremor Control, so the Dukes were clearly looking ahead about a decade and predicting how others would look back to a few decades previous. It's almost as confusing as 'Primer', except the songwriting is so lucid; the organ breakdowns, big ringing major 7ths, and sharp guitar solos are a Terrascopian elixir that tastes shockingly sweet. Other tracks are more devout in their pillaging - closing cut 'Pale and Precious' is the best Beach Boys tribute since His Name is Alive's 'Universal Frequencies' (and you know there's been craploads). I'm definitely sad they didn't leave us more though probably I should be more fair to late XTC. And it's on crazy coloured vinyl to match the album artwork.

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