Duncan Lloyd - Seeing Double
The one fear whenever a band member releases a solo album is that it will just come across as a sub-par version of their band’s music. Unfortunately for Duncan Lloyd, coming across as a sub-par Maximo Park would have been a big improvement over Seeing Double.
One problem with the album is realised very early on in that there is a general lack of variation in the songs. Seven Letters is a decent enough opener but the next track, Make Our Escape, is so similar that the listener could have been forgiven for thinking they had pressed the skip back button. This is a pattern that is repeated throughout the album with only the odd exceptions which turn out to be the album’s highlights, probably more down to the fact that they’re something different than being great songs themselves.
Lead single Suzee comes next and I was left bemused as to why most critics thought it sounded like a Maximo Park demo. For me, it comes across as something The Courteeners would release with its simple chorus of “Suzee you do/Suzee you don’t” which is even more of an insult than it sounds if you knew what I thought of them. It’s a strange choice as a lead single as well considering it could give a wrong impression of the album as it’s one of the few ‘sing along’ tracks on the album.
After more of the same uninspired stuff with Nightfly, the album finally comes into a short purple patch with the excellent Misfit, by far the strongest track on the album. It’s still something of a simple track, in keeping with the rest of the album’s raw sound, but there are guitar riffs that echo the greatness of Apply Some Pressure and a catchy refrain (“You can’t have your way/Not this time/Not today”) that makes you wonder how the rest of the album has been so average.
The rest of the album then just carries on like before. Victory And Surrender is a decent album track but nothing more despite being the strongest of the slow tracks on the album. You Are Partly To Blame could have been a great track as it does have some brilliant guitar interplay at the start which grabs your attention, but then it just goes on a bit too long when it would have been a perfect 3 minute pop gem. The title track Seeing Double welcomingly ups the tempo and is the second best track on the album, but doesn’t contain any memorable vocals or riffs for me to say it’s a great track merely good. Then we’re left with two slow songs to round it off which could be interchangeable with each other like the opening two tracks on the album.
The one thing I do admire Duncan Lloyd for is that none of the tracks have had much polish added to them. They are all the original versions which gives the album a raw quality which is refreshing in this day of bands being in the recording studio for days on end perfecting their songs. Ironically though this is probably what makes the album sound so similar as none of the tracks have had anything added to them to make them sound different.
Much was also made of the fact that this is the first time Duncan Lloyd has sung the main vocals but this doesn’t affect the album as much as I expected. Lloyd showcases some strong vocals especially in the slower tracks like Victory And Surrender and can also carry a more upbeat vocal like with Misfit. The one slight problem is that sometimes the vocals can get a bit muffled and lost in the instrumental, but I think this is more down to the raw production values and not a problem with Lloyd’s vocals.
It’s hard to not at least respect Duncan Lloyd for being bold and trying something different with his solo album. The unfortunate aspect is that moments of promise are so few that it’s hard to suggest his solo career can develop beyond this album.