A CONCEPT album, you say? About cricket? Only in England, one would think.
And yet The Duckworth Lewis Method – the name comes from a method of scoring in Test cricket – are a cricket-obsessed Irish duo consisting of The Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon and Thomas Walsh of obscure Irish pop group Pugwash.
Together, though, they have made a record which sits comfortably alongside The Kinks’ We Are the Village Green Preservation Society, The Small Faces’ Ogden Nut Gone Flake and more latterly, Blur’s Parklife in the great English pop tradition, even featuring guest appearances by Stephen Fry (Judd’s Paradox), Daniel Radcliffe (Third Man) and legendary commentator Henry Blofeld (It’s Just Not Cricket).
Lacking the archness and all-pervading air of sarcasm which permeates virtually all of the Divine Comedy’s output, Sticky Wickets simply oozes enthusiasm from every pore and it’s an enthusiasm which transmits itself completely to the listener. The album is one long smile-fest from beginning to end.
Style-wise, the duo prove themselves to be a jack of all trades and master of them all too, from the title track’s pleasingly Stonesy groove (think Brown Sugar), to The Umpire which would have sat perfectly on Blur’s Parklife with its tale of the eponymous hero’s dreary life (“I drive to work in my Ford Cortina . . .”) and the Monty Python-esque singalong of The Laughing Cavaliers.
Line and Length and Nudging and Nurdling (the titles alone are priceless) are robotically funky Kraftwerk-lite marches, while Boom Boom Afridi (a paean to Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi) and It’s Just Not Cricket are pure pop at its finest.