It begins, as Dw. Dunphy’s finest work does, with the voice and the voice alone, this one sweetly multi-tracked into an infinite background.
“And when it’s all laid out
and you wonder what it’s all about /
And when it’s all played through
you start to question what’s wrong with you /
When the music is right but the words are all wrong
you learn there is nothing harder than a song /
When the emotion is right and you just play along
you learn there is nothing harder than a song.”
The song, unfurled, then creeps out of its seashell as a casual crawl of guitar, synth and prepared drums, and Dunphy, a chameleonic singer-songwriter and virtual record-creating factory, nails all the requisite pop hooks, all the right pop-rock posturing. It’s the perfect B side to an excellent seven-inch, Dunphy’s long-anticipated debut on vinyl, released this week by Introverse to spectacular result.
Now I’ve known Dunphy for years and whether this makes me inherently biased about his qualities or simply a good pupil of his methods is left for the reader to decide. But I know the context and I know it well. Song selection is key on this outing and the tracks – one from Modernism (2008) and one from The Radial Night (2013), both freshly remixed and reminted for the release – have never sounded so good. The scratch of the record needle whirring softly in the fore adds a touch of nostalgic longing to Dunphy’s modern-day morality tales, and the format, that old standby of the pop 45, most definitely suits him.
“Your Saturday Sins,” with its sticky synth washes and occasional 1-2 rock-guitar punch, kicks off the proceedings, and lines that reference mortgage payments and balded tires keep Dunphy grounded as a eulogizer of the contemporary American condition. The very concept of Saturday sins and Sunday hymns – of never minding tomorrow or worrying about time that’s borrowed, to half-quote Dunphy – is enthralling stuff, proving Dunphy a careful student of lyrical complicity with the listener. “Nothing’s Harder Than A Song” is more direct in its methods but no less riveting, no less engaging.
The only downside to the release, if one were to be realized, is that Dunphy’s new seven-inch is a limited-run affair, and not everyone will be able to get their mitts on it. Want my recommendation? Put aside your copies of Modernism and The Radial Night and grab these new mixes of two classic Dunphy tracks. You will not be let down.