Single Review: Dutch Uncles – Face In

By on Wednesday, 9th February 2011 at 12:00 pm

I learned of Marple’s math rock band Dutch Uncles from a rather unlikely source and have since been voraciously eating up everything they’ve put out since. First there was ‘The Ink’. Then the ever salacious ‘Fragrant’, described matter-of-factly to me by singer Duncan Wallis in an interview last September as being about incest. As if in answer to my prayers, the band will be releasing a new album in April – no title as of yet – and we’ve gotten word of a new single, ‘Face In’, to be released on 28 February via Memphis Industries.

This is Dutch Uncles at their poppiest – and best – yet. The band – Wallis (vocals), Sped (guitar), Peter Broadhead (guitar), Robin Richards (bass) and Andy Proudfoot (drums) – sound tight on their recordings. ‘Face In’ is an example where the joyful music builds, jangly guitars noodling along and the drums not overwhelming but complementing Wallis’s lyrics perfectly. I don’t need to tell you it’s not common for a man to be singing about the problems of a woman. Unless of course the singer/writer has a romantic stake in this woman’s life (and I’m not getting that vibe here). I like the lyrics here a lot – they are simple, but they say an awful lot.

The words tell the sympathetic story of a female character who feels the need to put her ‘face’ on for her man. We’re not talking about the superficial putting on powder or applying her lipstick. This goes deeper than that. I find this absolutely heart-breaking, because I can relate to this – and come to think of it, I think everyone, whether you’re a man or a woman, can. We’ve all had instances in our life where we had to look and be perceived in a certain way, for our parents, for our better half, for our friends, for the people we work for. You can think of other situations, I’m sure.

Here’s a classic example: we put on ‘faces’ and look and act in particular ways in order to be attractive and hopefully find that one true soulmate, because we know we will be scrutinised; for better or worse, we as humans are judged – sometimes fairly, sometimes unfairly – based on outward appearances. Think of having to slap on a happy face when you’re not happy. (I have a huge extended family and think back to all the times I was dragged to family outings – weddings, parties, you name it – and had to pretend I was enjoying myself when I really wasn’t.) It sounds simple enough but can be difficult if you’re upset. Wallis sings, “So I get my dress on / could I get my dress on? / and I put my face right? / and I put my face in?” There’s apprehension here. What if the ‘face’ you’ve put on doesn’t have the intended result – making the impression you thought you’d make, pleasing the person(s) it’s intended for? Now I’m curious if this woman’s worries get resolved in the new album…


Dutch Uncles will be on tour in the UK later this month. They are also scheduled to make an appearance at the inaugural Friends of Mine Festival just outside Manchester in May (preview on TGTF here).

Photo by Sebastian Matthes

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[…] the single reviews: the first really long one I did was in February 2011, for Dutch Uncles‘ ‘Face-In’, and I remember after writing it, I was internally apologising to the readers of TGTF who […]

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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