Ducking Punches

Fizzy Brain

Written by: TL on 31/03/2016 16:52:21

From the UK, the Norwich-based based Ducking Punches has been garnering a bit of attention, as a good alternative for fans of singer-songwriter punks like Frank Turner or The Smith Street Band, and fans of the former can indeed look forward to catching frontman Dan Allen playing their songs live in support of Turner on his current tour. A third album from the band was released earlier this month under the title of "Fizzy Brain", continuing their tradition of storytelling, folksy punk-rock, where a violin compliments the usual selection of rock instruments both electric and acoustic.

The album thrives by the band's main strength, mainly the vocals of Allen, who sings in a rowdy, yet clearly enunciated British, which shows a decent range of emotion and has sufficient personality to stand out and draw interest from the listener. The songwriting is kept simple and to the point, a bit more straightforward and Frank Turner-ish than twisting and Smith Street Band-ish, which routinely leads to chorus repetitions that make the songs seem welcoming after a minimum of repeat listens. Just check out "Greedy Bones" or "Drinking Outside Funerals" as equally capable examples.

So far so well, yet to the critical ear it is perhaps possible to hear why Ducking Punches are still billed below their contemporaries. Originally a DIY band, traces of a stripped down recording ethos can still be heard on this album, for while the mix is clear and up to current standards, nothing here sounds particularly amplified or edited. More so the record sounds like it could've been recorded live in studio, using the same instruments for all the songs, giving it an organic but also slightly one-dimensional feeling, lacking a bit in dynamics.

This, however, arguably also has something to do with the songwriting approach, as Ducking Punches, in general, avoid from striking instrumental flourishes. Allen's vocals are front and centre for the duration of the record, with the guitars, bass, drums and violins organised beneath him in a seemingly fixed hierarchy, creating an often energetic and uptempo mood, yet lacking in particularly dynamic compositional movements and standout instrumental melodies. To be critical, you could question what the point is in having a violinist in your band, for instance, when the instrument so rarely is allowed to put its signature on a song.

Simple chord progressions seem to be the main order of the day, however, with the vocals working mainly on top of the instruments instead of in exchange with them. Alongside the mentioned drawbacks, this forms a natural boundary for how deeply engaging and/or long-lived Ducking Punches' recorded material can be for the time being, despite its otherwise infectious and instantly evident charm.

Download: Greedy Bones, Drinking Outside Funerals, God Damn Coward
For The Fans Of: Frank Turner, The Smith Street Band, AJJ, Beans On Toast

Release date 04.03.2016
Xtra Mile Recordings

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