Sam Duckworth: The Mannequin LP review

Posted on 24 August 2011
By Richard Lewis
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Named after a cheat for a vintage Batman game, Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. first came to attention in 2006 with minor classic The Chronicles of a Bohemian Teenager.

His fourth album and the first to be released under his own name away from the still functioning ‘Cape, The Mannequin finds Duckworth in reflective mood.

Despite hailing from Southend, a fact borne out by his estuary vocals, many of Duckworth’s songs have a distinct Americana feel to them.

US orch-pop totem Sufjan Stevens and Bright Eyes, whose songs deal in similar sonic territory are called to mind with the songs’ hushed, confessional pull.

Partly inspired according to the songwriter after ‘reading up theories on economic collapse’, the opening title track sets out its stall, constructed around a chorus of ‘You can have it all/You can have it now/And pay for it later/We’ll work it out’ lyric.

Crane Song (The Wall) glides past on a series of circular acoustic guitar arpeggios backed by a slightly sinister low-lying synth drone in the background.

Nights, constructed around a twisting R.E.M. style guitar figure unfolds beautifully across the course of three and a half minutes, a definite contender for the strongest track of the album.

The delicate Angels in the Snow tells of the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster, its lyrics perfectly set off by the wintry arrangement.

The Farmer slackens the pace somewhat, its programmed drums sounding clumsy against the FX pedal shimmer of the guitars.

Concluding with the longest song on the LP, 8888 stretches out to six minutes, yet doesn’t feel over-long, guided by a languid slide guitar line and spoken/sung delivery.

A brief but frequently excellent set, the disc finds Duckworth staking out his own territory away from his day job in some style.

The Mannequin is released on August 29th on Cooking Vinyl

Sam Duckworth plays The Shipping Forecast, Liverpool on 27th October.