Album Review: Amen Dunes -Freedom

A patiently-crafted album, the fourth full-length release from Amen Dunes, the musical project overseen by Damon McMahon, bruns warm, strutting grooves and vocal dexterity.

McMahon has honed a markedly more direct sound since his previous releases, channeling the sensitive boisterousness more often associated with British bands of the nineties – The Verve are one of the bands which will, no doubt, spring to many a listener’s mind.

The sequence toes the line meticulously between a retrospective scouring and a forward-gazing search, celebrating the familiar doubleness of joy and pain. McMahon’s lyricism is pushed and pummelled out of his vocal chords, most notably in “Skipping School”, which suffuses each song with a contorted exigency.

Themes of childhood, as well as nuances of music from a time gone by, abound throughout, but the album refuses to dwell in rose-tinted nostalgia. In “Dracula”, as McMahon crows ‘Here, then you gone/the transience seeping in’, listeners will no doubt discern echoes of traditional Cure-style gothicism.

There is something novel in this sequence, in both senses of the word. There is a freshness of sound and expression – but there is also the deft interweaving of artist and artistry, with unlikely figures surfacing throughout the album.

McMahon dabbles in time-travel in “Miki Dora”, which fluctuates and foams on plucked instrumentation to channel the real-life Californian surfer Miki Dora. “Satudarah” seems to be a nod to a Dutch motorcycle gang. Aforementioned “Dracula” could be referencing a Butthole Surfers song. The artist’s work could represent anything and everything. These enigmatic figures and religious tints comprise a far-reaching piece of work in both time-span and concept.

Jack Spacey-Helder

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One Comment Add yours

  1. I was not really familiar with his previous work, so this record is where I’ve discovered Amen Dunes. It definitely got me interested enough to check out the back catalog. Miki Dora sounds very Cave Singers to me, and that got me interested enough to check out the album.

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