Baxter Dury - The Night Chancers
Mar 20, 2020 (updated Mar 21, 2020)
91
Current AOTY Frontrunner.

Almost 18 years ago, Baxter Dury emerged as one of the oddest, promising acts in the British indie rock scene. An enigmatic musician, he spent much of his career, album after album, piecing together a sound that was truly his own. In 2020, reaching the pinnacle of his artistic ingenuity, Dury cements his place with not only his finest, most formidable, fully recognized work, but musically, it's a glamorous celebration/culmination of all his notable accomplishments as an ever-growing artist. Proud, triumphant, full of irrefutable passion, smooth swagger, unique confidence, a narratively open, fascinating conceptualization of modern life and romance, "The Night Chancers" is a rare spectacle, the kind of record many musicians aspire to create down the road, a moment initiated only through pure experience, maturation and artistic progression.

Dury's keen songwriting capabilities have always been a significant, alluring quality in many of his works, but with "The Night Chancers", the change in formula and chic offer, pleasingly, a new layer of focus as his old styles were wearing thin. The extent to which Baxter Dury does take with his new lyrical echelon is...at least for us listeners, up in the air, open for interpretation, but concisely bold. The album itself is no longer than 30 minutes, yet Dury dwells in his lyrical vagueness and ambivalence. Structurally, Dury's approach with this album reminds me seemingly of Édouard Manet paintings, ambiguous in nature, in a way pertaining some form of realism, but ultimately impressionist in its visual projection. I feel this is especially characterized by the constant change in tone musically and in Dury's delivery with songs like "I'm Not Your Dog" and the more spoken-word prominent second half. These fine adjustments are, visually, like sudden shifts in color and light.

But on the topic of 19th century French art movements, I should mention this record's stunning blend of savvy French pop and electronica with touches of King Krule-esque rock and refreshing 80s synthpop. Dury's recent obsession with French pop influences seems to work definitely in his favor! Dury's unique spin on these indie and synthpop sounds are very splendid, perfectly embodies the record's tone and overall colour. Whereas "The Night Chancers" is firmly beautiful and warming, it's equally anxious, distressing and unhinged, contrasting traits you could come to expect already in Dury's music if you've been following his artistic trajectory over the years. The grooves are incredibly infectious and the rhythms are top-notch superb. Even with the odd, dispiriting subject matter, the album doesn't fail at either keeping listeners on their feet ("Slumlord" and "Samurai") or leaving an everlasting emotional impression (i.e. the haunting, saddening synths on "I'm Not Your Dog", possibly the most stunning opener you'll find for an album like this). Dury has certainly uncovered his own unique formula!

"The Night Chancers" is not particularly a record for casual, one-time listeners. I feel if you're not invested with Baxter Dury's artistic journey thus far, or don't find a strong liking for the album's sonic or lyrical accomplishments, there's not much that'll be appealing. Plus, Baxter Dury's refusal to sing and prevalent spoken word passages can be quite patience-testing. But, in the times we are living in, Baxter Dury's "The Night Chancers", while incredibly straightforward, is truly a dense, eternal moment to appreciate.

Intense, incredible, artistically momentous records like this don't come in spades.

On another note: I can't imagine an album cover that's in any way more fitting. That's exactly how I'd imagine Baxter Dury!

FAV TRACKS: I'm Not Your Dog, Slumlord, Saliva Hog, Sleep People, Carla's Got A Boyfriend, The Night's Chancers, Say Nothing

LEAST FAV TRACK: Daylight
Inglume's Tags
4 Comments
Mar 21, 2020
I'm adding this album to my library right now. An artist inspired by French pop who gets a 9 from Inglume, I can't miss that.
Mar 21, 2020
I saw that Dury had collaborated with Étienne Daho in the past, one of the craziest icons of French chanson. That's AMAZING! 🇫🇷
Mar 22, 2020
@WhatTheFunk A solid 9 too I might add! I'm always finding more and more to appreciate about this record. I'm very glad to see you enjoyed it too, knew it would be right up your alley!
Mar 23, 2020
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