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The Cons & the Pros

Duotang

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Album Review

Duotang's first album, 1996's Smash the Ships and Raise the Beams, was a fairly drab affair, as the duo's insistence on sticking to its two-piece, bass-and-drums-only formula made for a rumbling, monotonous listen — the record sounded grumpy, which put it at odds with Duotang's penchant for punk-poppy songwriting and catchy melodies. They still haven't added a six-string guitar, but the judicious use of a horn section, a newfound emphasis on vocal harmonies, and the inclusion of Rod Slaughter's organ does wonders for Smash the Ships' follow-up, the bright, infectiously energetic The Cons & the Pros. Delegating the melodic and harmonic duties to the horns and the organ frees Slaughter's bass to explore propulsive rhythmic grooves, which lock perfectly in place beneath up-tempo numbers such as "Call Your Side" and drive the songs forward. Duotang's songwriting has improved as well, especially on numbers such as "Don't Give Up" and "Broken Rule," which inject witty, instantly memorable hooks and ba-ba choruses into moody, Joy Division-influenced soundscapes for a result that is two-fifths disturbing and three-fifths hilarious. Duotang's past work has earned the duo comparisons to such mod (and mod-inspired) groups as the Kinks, the Who, and the Jam. On this album, for the first time, the comparisons seem justified, and — though the band members aren't giving up their signature tailored suits — perhaps even a bit limiting.

Biography

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

The Winnipeg punk-pop band Duotang was formed in 1996 when members Rod Slaughter (Zen Bungalow) and Sean Allum (Bovine) began jamming together after their respective bands' shows and practices. Slaughter (vocals, bass, organ) and Allum (drums, backup vocals) soon hit the road, signed to Mint records, and released Smash the Ships and...
Full bio

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