The Dudley Corporation
In Love With
he hardest part of creating an album review is often the first line, and you can tell I’m having a brutal time writing about the Dudley Corporation by the way I drag out that hoary old gambit right away. I mean, it’s easy to have stuff to say about a record (we can all come up with stuff), but finding a sensible way to start talking about it either comes to you naturally, almost without thought, or not at all. This would be wholly irrelevant to you, the reader, were it not for the fact that the albums that resist a starting point are usually, at least for me, the ones that leave the least impression.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not here to be mean to this band. In Love With The Dudley Corporation, which I have listened to in excess of a dozen times while trying to write this piece, is not hard to listen to and… well, there goes the faint praise. Look, I like what’s here, it’s pleasant and occasionally catchy, I even find myself humming along every so often, but when the album ends, I’m left with nothing. I can’t remember what songs are which, I can’t remember where on the record the few bits I was humming along with are, I can’t remember any lyrics, I can’t remember a damned thing. Here is a list of the sum total of impressions I have formed from all those listens:
1. One song here makes me think, every time, that I’m about to hear Clor’s great “Love + Pain” instead. The disappointment is bitter.Even more so than with strong reactions, I’m sure my borderline amnesia with the Dudley Corporation has at least as much to do with me as with them. After all, Absolutely Kosher liked the record enough to put out, and they put out The Meadowlands so they already have my respect; I’m sure some find the 37 minutes here to be a delightful romp (I think I remember it being vaguely jaunty) ‘round the environs of Indieland. They’re touring with Pinback, and I suppose between them and Pavement you get some idea of their sound (not so much JJ72, and I’ve only heard the one Clor song). Listening to it again now my overwhelming impression of the music is that it could be the band from the Life Without Buildings album (minus Sue Tompkins, of course), same sort of vaguely angular clean guitar and bass lines, rattling along in a fashion that’s pleasant but without a Tompkins to focus on when the going gets bland.
2. Another reminds me of some acoustic tune off of JJ72’s second album (I’m not sure how I noticed this).
3. Every time I finish listening to this record, I spend the next half hour humming the opening bass part from Pavement’s “Stereo.” Not the whole song, just the bass at the beginning.
The Dudley Corporation do, however, stretch that sound a little, often employing a distorted guitar stomp that reminds me of mid-90s alternative rock (although that may be unfair) and borrowing the Delgados’ string section for some of the songs here, although thankfully they seem determined to not use those strings for the usual “sweeping, epic” placeholders. I think I recall Q liked the album.
As for me, I’m pretty sure that a few times after In Love With The Dudley Corporation stopped, I couldn’t even recall what I had been doing while it played, let alone the music. Which really isn’t an unpleasant sensation; it’s kind of a nice break from everyday life. Whether stop-starting arrangements and backing “ooh oohs” have the same spooky effects on you is something you’ll have to find out for yourself.
Reviewed by: Ian Mathers
Reviewed on: 2005-06-09