Album Reviews

Herman Dune – Giant

(Virgin/Source) UK release date: 5 February 2007

Melodies, poetry and rhythm overlap like summer nectar, and Herman Dune roll on like the most profound pop circus in the world.

They’ve always had that killer touch of course. Seven albums and twelve Peel sessions worth of underplayed, glimmering love songs have seen them make friends in the four corners of the globe, but there’s something extra about this effort that makes me want to shout from the rooftops the fact that it was made in Wales. Specifically the North: that land of mystery and beguilement that continues to conjure the greatest and yet most overlooked in alternative pop.

Indeed, Giant seems to be the mysterious region’s crowning glory, distilling years of melodic eccentricity pioneered by the likes of the Super Furries and Gorky’s into one irresistible package, and though I’m not quite sure if the Dune family were aware of the area�s rich lo-fi heritage, it doesn’t really matter. Giant breathes the same magic air.

Herman Dune have expanded like a pie in the oven under the guidance of a virtuoso cook. Their songs have gained the serenity of masters, the poise of greats, and all the easy humour that comes with it. A surreal conversational innovation opens Take Him Back To New York City… “And so the girls go ‘Hey what�s going on, why don’t you sing a song?’ And I’m like, well here is a song I wrote for our new album. I wrote it when I missed New York in the autumn” and it’s possibly the coolest thing I’ve ever heard, especially as what follows is a piece of lovelorn melancholia that shimmers in the moonlight like a thousand trickling tears.

The dialogue takes place between David Dune and The Woo-Woos, who are the brothers’ little sister Lisa and her pals, and an absolute enthrallment of Giant is the incessant interaction of David and brother Andre’s romantic poetry and The Woos’ sweet, innocent and fantastic girl-group cooing.

There’s also Doctor Lori Schonberg drafted in on bongos, bongos that add a distinct touch of tropicalia to the relaxedly teeming set, flavouring the melancholia with yet gentler rhythms, and The Jon Natchez bona fide Bourbon Horn section, giving a vintage jazz cool that propagates the nascent image of classy bar music for separated lovers.

For Giant also has an element of lovelorn adults staring into straight whiskies in neon and shade. It’s Bogart and Sinatra via Pop poetry, inhabiting a quaint world of novelist and poet rather than celeb and apologist. Opener I Wish That I Could See You Soon sees David’s lyricism laying typically bare with his lover half way across the globe, The Woo-Woos playfully bleeding his broken heart with nudging questions, and the light shines through the gloom like a million happy stars. It’s Casablanca on Broadway.

What Giant is really all about though is saving hope from the fire and making it into humble, fragile monuments of beauty. Serenading friends all over the globe with pulsating heart and poignancy, it’s what’s round the corner when you’re down-at-heel, and an epic consolation for all things far away. Though sad to see new friends leave, North Wales will be happy to bequeath it to the world.

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More on Herman Dune
Herman Dune – Strange Moosic
Herman Dune @ Scala, London
Herman Dune – Next Year In Zion
Herman Dune – Giant