Album Review: The Dowling Poole – “One Hyde Park”
2016 has certainly been a busy year for the extended Wildhearts family. With CJ releasing his second solo album a couple of months back, Ginger plotting a slew of new releases, Scott Sorry on the comeback trail with a solo album and Danny McCormack and Stidi both on the verge of returning to the music scene with The Main Grains and The Drama Club Rejects respectively, WH fans have certainly been spoilt for choice in terms of new stuff to listen to recently. And now you can add to that list ‘Hearts alumni Willie Dowling and Jon Poole in the form of the second album from their Dowling Poole project.
The first Dowling Poole album Bleak Strategies came out two years ago, and was an oddball collection of experimental pop-rock which definitely owed a passing nod to XTC in terms of its sound. One Hyde Park continues that theme, with opening track Rebecca Receiving sounding oddly like what might happen if Duran Duran and Wire decided to go out for a few drinks one night. From then on, it comes at you from all angles – Fight Fight Fight is propelled along on a naggingly addictive Beach Boys/Barracudas style “ba ba ba” chorus, before When She Knows She Knows and the tabloid bashing Vox Pops both go all Talking Heads meets music hall piano on us.
It really does feel like Willie and Jon (and co-collaborator Givvi Flynn) are chucking everything and anything they see fit into the pot, whether it be an anti-religion song which sees them almost scat-rapping the words (Adam And Eve), ’50s doo-wop rhythms (Willing To Change), glammed up post punk (American Teeth (English Pride)), dreamy reggae-pop (the quite lovely Bring Back The Glow) or a big epic slice of orchestral psychedelia for the closing title track, which brings to mind the odd image of Freddie Mercury jamming with Brian Wilson.
The key though is that every one of these songs is the sort of thing you can see yourself coming straight back to for another listen, and picking up little things you missed first time, which was one of the drawbacks with Bleak Strategies, which had some good songs but it meandered a bit.
One Hyde Park does what every good second album should, in that it takes the first album template, irons out the creases, retains the good bits and comes roaring out of the traps with a supremely tuneful collection of earworms that you'll come back to time and again and discover new things with every listen. I think we definitely have an early contender for the Album Of The Year award with this 'un.