[sic] Magazine

DUDS – Of A Nature Or Degree

The underground has a different definition of big league. To a band like Manchester five-piece DUDS, a full-length (oh, ok then, it’s 25 mins long) on John Dwyer’s Castle Face label is definitely a sign of having made it … and so it should be. Joining such an illustrious guitar-based roster after just a couple of online releases, followed up by the Marc Riley-endorsed Wet Reduction EP, really is hitting the indie jackpot. Except, of course, DUDS’ game is post-punk, a minimal clatter that’s very British, very now and, yet, also very 1979. Even more power to them then.

With budget riffs straight from the Gang Of Four and Wire handbook via the no-wave skronking sound of local noise-hole Islington Mill, DUDS are a furious tumble of tin-pot angles, grubby bass and discordant breakdowns. A blast of trumpet periodically leads you down the garden path to the turning marked art-rock, a curious groove bent out of the bleakest of structures elsewhere. A half-spoken vocal then snarls its way to the edge of choruses only to back away in disgust, fragments of rhythm and melody occasionally coalescing – such as on album opener “No Remark” – into Parquet Courts-style punk-rock.

The only track to hit the three-minute mark, “Split On Both Sides” has the luxury of an uncluttered build-up during which you can distinguish each instrument doing its own thing independent of every other – and just as you’re getting used to mixing them in your own auditory cortices you realise the track’s actually a sombre instrumental. Spiky guitar picked out of nothing dominates throughout, skittering drum machine drowning out cowbell and skewed punk-funk on “Irregular Patterns”, while it’s the bloated bass and braying brass that stand album highlight “Elastic Feel” apart, needling guitar noise and that indifferent smear of a vocal adding insult to injury. DUDS have just taken home the top prize available to them and, thrillingly, they sound like they don’t care one bit.

Best track: “Elastic Feel”

~Of A Nature Or Degree is out now via Castle Face.~