Sunday, August 9, 2009

Fancy a Game of Cricket, Then?

The Duckworth Lewis Method
The Duckworth Lewis Method

There has never, apparently, been an entire album dedicated to the sport of Cricket. A handful of songs, sure, but never an album. And this would seem simultaneously surprising and sensible; surprising, as cricket is a popular game around the world, and sensible, because, well, it's cricket. It doesn't exactly scream ROCK N' FUCKIN' ROLL at the top of its lungs.

Fortunately, there are people like Neil Hannon and Thomas Walsh, two Irish musicians with a strong affinity for cricket, and who are willing to share that fondness with the world. So, here we have The Duckworth Lewis Method, an album of chamber pop pastiches which pay homage to that most English of sports.

The album is named, for those wondering, after a complicated algorithm which is the accepted method for determining the winner of a match that is rained out. I looked it up, and it's a wonder anyone ever managed to come up with it. In most sports, you could just reschedule the game, but cricket matches go on for days, with breaks for lunch, and rescheduling a game is nearly imposible. Matches can go on for weeks, literally, and so it is no small miracle that this album never wears out its welcome. This is no small credit to Hannon, who was clearly in charge of the proceedings; you could be forgiven for mistaking this as a Divine Comedy album, the band Hannon fronts for his day job.

These tunes are fun. They are definitely pastiches, no question; there isn't anything new here. But it's all done so well, with such a sense of fun, that you can easily give yourself over and enjoy. What's critical to this album's success, outside of the music, is that Hannon and Walsh are fans not just of cricket, but of the lifestyle, that most English of ways, that it represents. The album eulogises a sport and a world that could be falling away for good. It doesn't say, to its credit, whether or not this is a bad thing, and it never tackles the point explicitly, but it is there, floating in the back of your mind, rapping gently on your thoughts.

Grade: B+

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