Coming of age, British duo find their true selves in riveting separation of strands.
Here’s a paradox. Over the course of two albums, these two artists seemed to try and fuse art-rock with heavy metal – in various positions, as signaled by "Upside Down World" – but the genuine mutual morphing of the genres Brendel and Dunham had perfected before that, occurred when their stylistic marriage revealed the interfaces of the pair’s magic. What the record’s title doesn’t hint at, though, is Doris and Lee’s decision to drop the superficial teenagers’ image they exposed earlier and adopt a deeper attitude to life, which only enriched its musical layer.
This is why, despite the titular diversity, there’s a unifying theme and symmetry to “Eclectica” where the personal and the universal collide with a melodious clang, and an enchanting microcosm of “The One” which kickstarts the songs cycle finds an expansive finale on “One World” ruffling the powerful beat into sunny skank along the way. Flute-led folk and piano fuel the feelings on offer, yet it’s the tumultuous realism of “Death & Taxes” and electric flamenco behind “I Rather Wear Black” that render the sincerity of it all simply irresistible. The riff-laden “Love App” may factor in playfulness to make its rocking infectious, and not for nothing the piece’s twin-guitar attack is fueled by the appearance of Andy Powell, but Brendel’s voice is scaling orchestral scope of “Crying Shame” with the same barely restrained vigor.
While “Animal” has deliberately lifted a lid on “Superstition” to let off some steam and bring brass out to a barnyard or a zoo, Dunham is taking over “Retribution” to drive its funk over the spiritual edge, but mini-epic “Losing It” shifts the focus from confusion to hope. That’s when baroque strings send the breezy “Balloon” towards the clear blue skies, and disparate threads of “Eclectica” form an arresting tapestry for the listener to marvel at. It’s a celebration of life in both black-and-white and glorious technicolor.