Duke Dumont - Duality Music Album Reviews

Seven years after his breakout hit, the UK house producer’s debut album aims to bridge generation-defining dance sounds with more emotive electronic fare, but mostly struggles to find its way.

Duke Dumont rode the mid-2010s wave of radio-friendly deep house into superstardom. Alongside contemporaries like Disclosure, he blended classic house tropes with the punchy clarity of modern EDM pop. In two years, Dumont topped the singles chart in his native United Kingdom twice and hit No. 1 on the U.S. Dance Club chart five times. Now, seven years after his breakout single, “Need U (100%),” Dumont’s debut LP only highlights how far dance music has moved on from the era when his soulful vocal chops and frictionless beats felt like a breath of fresh air.

Duality takes its title from what Dumont claims are the two sides of his artistic self: consummate hitmaker and bold experimentalist. (“NO GENRE, NO BOUNDARIES, NO RESTRAINTS AND NO FEAR,” he asserted when he announced the album.) This split plays out, unsubtly, in the sequencing of the LP, with its dancier A-side and more introspective, freewheeling B-side. But it’s nearly impossible, on either front, to get a sense of anything that informs Dumont’s vision beyond unobjectionable studio chops and a residual penchant for clichéd EDM builds. The productions’ defining quality is that they are sufficiently devoid of idiosyncrasies to serve as adequate vehicles for guest vocalists.

This approach didn’t always result in mediocrity. Dumont’s 2012 single “The Giver” spun a passing phrase from the late Chicago diva Kim English into an addictive groove, while “Need U (100%)” was a thunderous piece of UKG-inflected house, even without A*M*E’s entrancing vocals. But the songs on Duality rarely approach the vitality of those tracks. Lead single “Therapy,” with a forceful performance from Yola, ought to be a knockout, but a clumsy jumble of breaks and piano house keeps it from greatness. Other features are more criminally misused; on “Obey,” rudimentary techno stabs and stale acid breakdowns neuter an anti-establishment oration from legendary house vocalist Roland Clark. (It’s a shame, because Clark’s spoken-word efforts, as another one of his recent collaborations reveals, can be effective when they’re paired with less cluttered productions.)

On the second half of the album, How to Dress Well is recognizable on the vocoder-heavy endeavor “Together,” if only in timbre. This superficial ode to unity largely falls flat, but that’s not all Tom Krell’s fault. At the emotional apex, when the track swells into syncopated blasts of synth and crash cymbal, Dumont makes a brazen attempt at triggering the intoxicating main-stage euphoria of one-time rave wunderkinds like Porter Robinson or Madeon. Then the overblown arena-rock drum fill kicks in, and the whole thing ends up sounding like a facsimile of other, more emotionally affecting songs—a cheap play to the rafters. It’s a staggering disappointment, especially from a producer who once touted his hitmaking foresight when it came to the electronic music zeitgeist. “This will sound arrogant, but before ‘Need U (100%),’ there were no house records that got to No.1 in the charts,” Dumont said back in 2016, proudly proclaiming that his single “Ocean Drive” would “spawn copycat records, which will inevitably be commercially more successful”—apparently having his sour-grapes cake and eating it too.

Fitting, then, that a reprised version of that last song sits in the middle of his debut album’s tracklist, half a decade removed from its original release. The lush synth pop of “Ocean Drive” has retained much of its charm, and it’s the still best moment on the record, far more memorable than its closest counterpart (the Say Lou Lou collaboration “Nightcrawler”) or album closer “Let Me Go,” featuring Ry X, which begins as a Sam Smithian ballad before inflating itself with middling trance arpeggios. Duality wants to be the moment that Duke Dumont re-introduces himself as a producer who’s capable of both generation-defining dance records and more emotive electronic work. Instead, you’re left with the sense that in a post-EDM world, he doesn’t know where to go next.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Duke Dumont - Duality Music Album Reviews Duke Dumont - Duality Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on April 29, 2020 Rating: 5


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