So, the story goes something like this: a little-known but highly praised Scottish post-hardcore outfit release three rather fine albums to little success. Their frontman, perhaps a little jaded by their lack of commercial advancement, forms a bizarre side-project based around a fictional duke whose debut album flits from brain-crushing insanity to acoustic loveliness at whiplash-inducing speed – so far, so good. Then, however, the first band finally achieves some well-earned success, only for their music to go…well, pretty shit in fact. Their frontman reacts by reviving his old side-project, hoping perhaps to revitalise his song writing.
In case you hadn’t guessed, the band I’m referring to here is one Biffy Clyro, and it’s Simon Neil’s Marmaduke Duke side-project (formed with JP Reid of Sucioperro) that’s come out of suspended animation with their new single ‘Kid Gloves’. But has Simon’s music found a new lease of life with this track? Well, swapping crunching guitars for chiming synths and funk rhythms just show a man realising that his old tricks have lead to something of a dead-end, but ‘Kid Gloves’ never moves beyond initial promise. The song seems content to hit autopilot as soon as the first chorus has been and gone (and given that it’s a chorus that sounds suspiciously like ‘Folding Stars’ on a cheap Casio, that’s an even more damning failure), and when compared to the gleeful experiments of earlier Marmaduke Duke material, ‘Kid Gloves’ sounds anaemic to say the least. It’d be foolish to write off Simon Neil and his band(s) just yet, but after several disappointing singles from the Biffy, ‘Kid Gloves’ suggests a man whose inspiration is running out.
Review by Mark Corcoran-Lettice