The not so difficult fourth album is upon us it would seem. He might have been in this game for several decades but as a solo artist, Duncan is a mere pup, a fresh-faced newbie of sorts (he’s still playing the introducing stages). With a line-up that’s been in situ for some time – well, more time than any other line up he’s assembled since going his own way and on ‘Don’t Blame Yourself’ they’ve really spread their collective wings and are soaring, trust me on this.
My criticism (not really a criticism I love this guys music) of previous efforts was that (as great as they were) they didn’t really reflect the band live and how bloody good they are and how much punch they give to the most excellent melodies and tunes they were playing. Well, pop pickers that has been put to bed as ‘Don’t Blame Yourself’ has plenty of grunt under the hood and Rock out with the big boys on record as they do live. Result then? Hell Yeah!
‘Don’t Blame Yourself’ offers up fourteen slices of powerpoppin’ Rock and Roll of all shades and sounds and has pushed Duncan and his songwriting talents to the max and on multiple plays its paid dividends each and every time. It’s reflective, humorous and on the odd occasion, it’s on political point and always insightful, damn educational even who’d have thought it? Rock and Roll teaching the masses. Above all I think Duncan has penned his best record since taking the plunge and with no better example than the opener ‘Future Ex Wife’ as it comes roaring out of the traps.
Some of the record has been road-tested live and worked, I know that because I’ve seen and heard ’em played and it looks and sounds like a great choice to do that. theres always a heap of charm with Duncan’s solo records either with wicked melodies or vocal arrangments and harmonies pretty much all over the place.
I particularly like that Duncan has sat on the fence with ‘Motherfucker’ and can’t wait for his next political observation, Hell yeah! Brother. The flow of the record is great as you get picked up and a lyric jumps out and makes you smile only to have your thought taken somewhere else due to a killer hook or vocal arrangement, thrown together it certainly wasn’t and if it was..well, the guys clearly a genius. To make it a trio of opening cuts ‘Welcome To My World’ is a slice of power pop where the guitars weave towards the chorus where you get the layered vocals cap off another top tune.
He still throws a curveball and a change of pace. The hypnotic ‘Tea & Sympathy’ has a larger slice of pop than the previous songs as it heads down a new wave maybe XTC sort of avenue. ‘To Live Or Live Not’ is classic Reid But wait, ‘The Grim Reaper’ sounds like ’70s New York pop or Supertramp but it doesn’t sound out of place with all its trumpet tooting grandeur.
The first time I heard ‘For All We Know’ it was instantly imprinted on my brain and its still a winner on record capturing the backstory of the song perfectly. If you were to hear it being told this is how it would sound in your head. A top tune to end side one. Side two begins with the dreamy qualities of ‘Oh What A Lovely Day’ If the keyboards of classic Damned ‘Strawberries’ and ‘Black Album’ era possibly Sensibles style and touch are your things then songs like this are right up your street. Layers of vocals and keyboards with the hint of some guitars to take it home. After the Big Heads get their tune. The title track is like the band has channeled Bolans boogie and chosen the medium of Les Paul riffs to express themselves. Stripped it back with a sparse arrangement, unfussy riff-a-rama, and no big layered harmonies and it really works well even the guitar solo is minimal and that fits perfectly.
I could waffle here all day (some might say I do anyway), that only gives them ‘Big Heads’ bigger heads but it would be a dereliction of duty if I didn’t big up the Big Heads and this most excellent LP. Rockin’, Rollin’, thoughtful, insightful, soothing, amusing to name a few of its qualities, as far as albums released this year goes this will unquestionably be up there as the best released in what is unfolding as the strangest years ever but ‘Don’t Blame Yourself’ is a bonafide Banger!
If you are familiar with Duncan and his music you’re going to love it and there is so much on offer you could pick out a new favourite track each time. If you’re still reading and still curious and have no idea about Duncan Reid & The Big Heads then don’t be shy – jump in they don’t bite, my advice – just buy it! sit in the garden open all your windows and your lockdown has just got 87% more bearable. Hell, shout over the fence to your neighborhood, “Enjoy the tunes – They’re Fuckin’ Great” then tell ’em they can pick up a copy from the link.my work here is done.
Buy ‘Don’t Blame Yourself’ Here
Author: Dom Daley