Duels amble onto the stage to face an audience sweaty with anticipation after too much sun. For a sticky Tuesday evening, it’s clear that other people have heard the hype and are keen to judge whether this Leeds based five-piece really are 2005’s next big thing.
They present a stylish stage ensemble and the tunes are slick and well rehearsed. Striking a singing pose at the opposite end of the spectrum to gurning Liam Gallagher, lead singer Jon is determined to stoop as low as possible, as he the cradles the microphone at a height more suited to a five year old. Perhaps an odd form of subtle homage to Damon Albarn’s Blur, a band to which the Duels have been compared.
But don’t be fooled into thinking Duels are staging a Britpop revival; their polished mastery of the electro-rock sound is more akin to a Killers/Franz Ferdinand amalgamation. Dicing with this now overly familiar style could spark accusations of unoriginality, but Duels salvage an individual edge with melodic keyboards that soften the staccato beats luxuriously. Jon is joined on vocals with his keyboard-playing female cousin, which adds further richness to the melodies.
Duels’ choice of lyrical subject matter is eclectic but confident. They believe in their music and seem sure of hitting the big time. ‘I want success’ belts out Jon as he awkwardly bends down to the mic – the apologetic stature seemingly at odds with both the words and grandiose guitar distortion. Other tracks such as ‘Out of pursuit’ and ‘Dead Man’ are fast-paced slices of electro-pop, with racing drums reminiscent of the Bravery.
Asking fans of the band to sign up as ‘young believers’, the Duels’ song of the same name is surely testimony to the dedication of their die-hard followers, as those clustered around the stage sing along word for word. These defiant, all-for-one lyrics have George Harrison stamped all over them, giving you a warm, fuzzy feeling inside and played this back-to-back with the punk-tinged, Smiths-esque gothic anthem, ‘Animal’, Duels effectively showcase the scope of their music.
The final song of the night was Duels’ debut single, ‘Potential Futures’, released on 18th July. Its stonking guitar riffs pack a punch and you know it will only be a matter of time before you’re humming the catchy melody.