sun 03/07/2022

CD: Baxter Dury - Prince of Tears | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Baxter Dury - Prince of Tears

CD: Baxter Dury - Prince of Tears

Idiosyncratic songwriter's debut for Heavenly Records has a moody potency

As son of the famous Blockheads frontman, Baxter Dury has always had big (new) boots to fill. Over the last 15 years though, he’s become distinguishable in his own right for his Chiswick accent and roughened-up pastoral music. Both are just as present in Prince of Tears as they have been on his previous albums, but with friends Madeleine Hart, Jason Williamson (Sleaford Mods) and Rose Elinor Dougall (The Pipettes) providing guest vocals, it’s an album that engages with a wrenching variety of humanity's different sides, often more shade than light, rather than being just about the music.

Single “Miami” starts the album in a pleasantly plodding way, sounding not unlike a slowed-down Hercules & Love Affair. Dury makes full use of the orchestra on hand as he recorded the album, with the multiple string parts giving the song (and world inhabited by the grim narrator, Miami itself) an edge of tragedy. “Porcelain” is unsurprisingly equally as fragile, the raindrop-like piano opening giving way to Rose Elinor Dougall’s sinisterly deadpan vocals, keeping the mood tense throughout. 

That’s not to say Prince of Tears is relentlessly depressing by any stretch. “Oi” has all the fun of the "fairground" side of Blur’s Parklife, with its spiralling Wurlitzer and steady beat bouncing the song along. “Letter Bomb” also manages to blast its way through several slow psychedelic choruses and old-skool punk refrains in under two minutes. This simplicity readily lends itself to Dury’s style of music.

The strongest song on the album, by far, is the title track. Dury and Hart take turns to lament the “Prince of Tears”, a man who seems to be the result of all the heartbreak found in the other songs. The pained guitar mirrors the grief of the singers, helping to send a resounding final message: Dury’s getting gloomier.

Overleaf: watch the video for "Miami"

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