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A Magazine for Sheffield

The Silent Well

Manchester band Douga’s debut LP, The Silent Well, rides high on the new wave of dreamy psychedelia resurgent in British music. The album’s sensuous sonic landscape is decorated with hypnotic rhythms and melodies, which are countered by heavier, psychedelic grunge sections. Johnny Winbolt-Lewis’s vocals illuminate the lush backdrop, sounding not unlike a young Richard Ashcroft at times. As Winbolt-Lewis chants “TV Believers and rabid receivers” on ‘Accidents’, he could be Kasabian’s Tom Meighan minus the bravado. Douga are versed in musical history, with 60s and 70s krautrock influences prevalent, but this LP is more homage than carbon copy.

Standout tracks include ‘Still Waters’, which takes a more upbeat turn, reminiscent of hazy summer evenings as intricate guitars intertwine amongst fuzzy rhythms. The insistent chorus of “I’m not a yes man” is a refreshing assertion that Douga is a band with something to say. ‘Chains’ is a song draped in repeating rhythms, not shy of making a statement: “Does it seem real to you that the world has laws / Which wrestle down all except corporate whores”. ‘Albatross’ is more melancholy and clever sampling adds to its emotive sense of nostalgia. Neither shares much with the similarly named Fleetwood Mac songs. The single, ‘Blue Is Nothing’, drifts along over lush strings, driven by an insistent beat and introspective vocals.

This is a complex and musically mature album, with contemplative, clever lyrics; not just a great sound but also an important anti-corporate message for modern times. Their stance against “jumping through hoops” (‘Beat Konductor’) is almost Radiohead-esque at times, and they touch on everything from pollution to corrupt governments. This first full-length album is a triumph, showcasing how they have refined their experimental early sounds into a complete and captivating record.

Liz Hird