Now more than ever

The first track on this set is "Nostalgia's a Vice," a fairly trenchant commentary on folks of a certain age who insist that the best music (or whatever) is from an earlier time. That's a fairly amusing bit from a duo that hasn't released an album in 15 years--and now returns with an overstuffed set that sounds a lot like what the boys were doing in 2001.

New Occupation
There aren't many power-pop duos out there, and I'm struggling to remember another drum-and-bass duo along these lines. Duotang's sound was and remains distinctive. And so, when singer and bassist Rod Slaughter emailed me and asked if I would be interested in hearing the new stuff, I had to restrain myself to a mildly enthusiastic response: "Oh my God! Are you frickin' kidding me? Now, Rod, send it to me now or my brain will explode!"

Or something like that.

But that sort of reaction wouldn't have been out of line. If you have spent any time listening to the band over the years (as I do on a regular basis), the notion of new stuff is thrilling. "Reunion" albums usually disappoint (see Star, Big; Cocks, Buzz; Pixies, The), but this album is a resounding exception. Slaughter and drummer Sean Allum have been wandering around with other projects, and their experiences afield seem to have sharpened their songwriting. Duotang songs have always been pretty tightly-wound, but this set is even more so. The lyrics are sharper as well, leaving gaping wounds at times. Duotang was never a band to hold back, and this reformation finds the boys in fine form.

Duotang never plays anything straight, from music to lyrics to basic song construction. The boys incorporate a few horns (synth or otherwise) and keyboards here and there, but this really is a wedding of pop bass and punchy drums tied to Slaughter's ever-so-slightly quavering vocals.

Nostalgia is a vice. And yet, Duotang is also "Quite Content in the Rut," the last track on this set. Once again, Allum and Slaughter have anticipated the reaction to their music and done your reacting for you. You can thank them after listening to this album a few dozen times. It's the least you can do.

Jon Worley

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