Let the People Speak
Upon first glance, Grand Duchy seem like a group of folks stuck between stations, trying to mix glam-y electro-clash disco with introspective indie rock, playing catch-up with a ten-year-old novelty trend. Wouldn't you know it though, Grand Duchy are the latest project from the extremely prolific Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV, generally known as Frank Black, here using his Pixies moniker of Black Francis. Grand Duchy (a collaboration with his wife, Violet Clark) is Black's first band since the Pixies that don't deign to use his name to sell themselves. It isn't until track four, "Where is John Frum?," that we hear Black's familiar vocals, as the band's second album, Let the People Speak, is introduced by, and peppered with, Ken Nordine-esque spoken interludes from DJ Jonathan L, and the first few songs showcase Clark's tarty vocals, which are somewhat reminiscent of '90s trip-hop one-off Ruby. Let the People Speak is replete with an early '00s throwback sound, embracing the disposable club-rock purveyed once so successfully by groups like the Rapture. And while the layers of oddball narrative that Black brings to the table help distinguish it, aesthetically it's at least five years too late and feels like something aimed squarely at hip, divorced dads.
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