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"It’s about making a career out of brain farts”

“There’s nothing serious about Duck Sauce - nothing”

I had a whole spiel about the place of comedy in music ready for this review; a serious look into the forms humour takes in an array of genres, and how that translates with Duck Sauce, the dance duo comprised of superstar producers Armand Van Helden and A-Trak. Alas, I then happened upon the above quotes in a Pitchfork interview with the pair, and decided sincerity probably isn’t the right approach when the progenitors seem to be fucking around themselves.

"Just a riff and a word” is the phrase that Van Helden and A-Trak used to describe their biggest hit to date: the ridiculous, omnipresent “Barbra Streisand”. The word doesn’t matter, as proved by “Barbra Streisand” itself, whereas the riff often taken from a lost classic disco or funk cut; “aNYway” nabs from Final Edition’s “I Can Do It (Anyway You Want), “NRG” samples Melissa Manchester’s “Energy" whilst Time Bandits’ “Live It Up” finds itself wedged into “Spandex”. Whilst the production and editing of these lesser known songs into EDM monoliths is masterful, I’d really rather just listen to the originals in most cases.

Almost the entirety of Quack, the duo’s debut album, just feels like pre-organised fun, wackiness for the sake of wackiness, the banter phenomenon in musical form. Being so down of such effervescent music will likely result in accusations of “hating fun” or “being a hipster” or something nonsensical like that. Honestly though, it’s anything but; I’m completely up for some big stupid fun pop, but Van Helden and A-Trak can’t seem to commit to being either completely sincere or completely ironic. Such smirky, tongue-in-cheek big EDM beats might sound life-affirming when you’re of your tits on bad ket in a dank sticky-floored club or some sun-soaked festival-hosting field, but in any other situation, it’s four minutes of catchy fluff that’s either going to induce a smile and leave your memory as soon as it’s over (“It’s You”, “NRG”, “Streisand”, “Ring Me”) or ruin the rest of your day.

The arch ironic/non-ironic aura ingrained in Quack probably isn’t even my biggest bugbear either. It’s the goddamn sketches. Can we agree that hip-hop is the only genre allowed to do sketches on albums, and even then they should be vetted heavily? The interstitial gags barely hit home, ruin the flow and take up roughly 20% of the album’s runtime. Stick to making a bi-annual dance smash hits, lads, it’s a lot less to suffer through.



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