Jim Duffy - Pale Afternoon - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Jim Duffy - Pale Afternoon

by Nathan Fidler Rating:7 Release Date:2016-02-01

It’s funny how things go in cycles; what was once cool is soon not, but it can become vogue once again in time without explanation. Jim Duffy, with his third full-length album, takes yet another stab at the instrumental pop genre - something which appears to baffle some.

It’s a not a well known genre, nor could you say it's much loved. On the surface it sounds like elevator music, the kind of thing you’d find tootling away in the background at a bright and busy shopping centre in the 80s, or if you’re looking for a description which doesn’t make you run a mile, the kind of music which accompanies to more recent outings in the Mario Kart video game.

There is almost an art to this kind of music, the composition takes a lot more thought, resting on the change-up in melodies and conveyance of an emotion. It’s a good job Jim Duffy is no slouch then, hot to trot on his Wurlitzer electric piano he jaunts through an album of pop infused with many other genres.

From the exotic-pop feeling ‘Boulevard Six’ and ‘Tenerife’ to the laid-back lounge music feel of title track ‘Pale Afternoon’, electric piano takes centre stage, something many will find dull and grating. But with long, bending solos, and trumpets there is enough to make you fall for these songs.

Duffy is at his finest in the eerie ‘Mission Creep’ where his keys seem to descend down in the cellar/dungeon/cave, guided by topsy turvy candlelight. There isn’t enough of this flavour however, and it’s the sole criticism you could level at the album. Vulfpeck have funked this genre up with their efforts, imbuing pop-instrumentals with vim and vigour, while Duffy seems content to keep things more templated and evenly paced.

Even Vulfpeck failed to really break big with their music though, and that’s with the help of vocalists on their first full album. This might not mean much to Jim Duffy however, who seems dedicated to this most niche of crafts. He does what he does well enough that if you’re looking for some accompaniment music while you potter around the house, or while you hop in the shower, this might be just the thing you’ve been searching for.

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You've nailed the instrumental pop genre on the head. I'm an instrumental pop artist, and people run even at the mention of "instrumental pop". Sven Sundberg

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