Baxter Dury, Étienne de Crécy, Delilah Holliday
Baxter Dury is a rarely exciting poet in a world of music that feels to only value singing. For this collaboration with Étienne de Crécy and Delilah Holliday all three play their parts smartly while missing the mark a little too often. Though they rarely deliver anything individually bad, the cohesion is the inconsistent fault that damages the record.
A distinctly Euro-pop current runs under “Tais Toi” to bring a new energy to Dury’s writing, that lets his poetry stand starker than before. This spoken-word glory plays in a fun dialogue between the words him and Holliday say to and for each other, and enhance the mechanical tones of the techno drive. Even out of his usually swaying productions, Dury rips out with brutally honest and human lyrics that always feel wonderfully appropriate. There’s a menacing drive to “Walk Away” as it sweeps into a much darker and groove-driven sound. The simplistic direction of the lyrics however suggest a kind of fear and uncertainty that permeates people in their daily life. With tones of Cyndi Lauper’s “She-Bop,” there’s a much cheekier energy to “How Do You Make Me Feel” while it sees Holliday taking a much more seductive approach to her vocals. Though there’s certainly a bite to Dury’s own writing here, he’s saying things like he’s trying to avoid being heard, to the point that it’s distracting .
The vintage ambiance of “Fly Away” has a strangely ominous energy under it, that highlights Holliday’s own sadness in the lyrics. This said, where other songs on the B.E.D record are able to make their synthetic backing work, this track ultimately feels too jaded to really stand out outside of full album listens. “White Coats” still suffers Dury’s unusual delivery on this record, though it’s more worrisome here than out of place. With so many dance highlights across the track, they all tie together for a wondrous web of entrancing moments. The synth solo is exceptionally over-the-top as it sends the song into a rarely exuberant feeling for the record. “Only My Honesty Matters” is Dury at his most angry and pointed, dissecting behaviour while driving to Florence and the Machine. Self-aware and self-deprecating, Dury cuts through to give some abrasive commentary on artists and society itself.
In the electronic core of “Centipedes” so many of the hooks work, and only sees the track sinking in its lack of energy. Though Dury and Holliday deliver as much as they can lyrically and vocally, there’s just such a subdued baseline drive to the track that it’s hard to move beyond. Some of the track’s more visual and sinister lyricism does make something like “Centipedes” feel a little too simple in contrast. That said, the latter track’s charm in stripping down pop is strangely intimate and direct. “Eurostars” closes things off with what Dury does best, as he laments our attempts to be strong over a bland keyboard hook. Somehow in all of this however, there’s a sadness that comes out a little louder.
Words by Owen Maxwell