By Brien Miceli, Contributing Writer ||
Finally, after nearly four years, Duck Sauce has come out with their first studio album. Duck Sauce is a collaboration between producers and performers Armand Van Helden and A-Trak that started in New York in 2010. It was originally a side project for the two producers and still is — albeit a side project that’s arguably more popular than either of them. Even though Duck Sauce has become wildly popular, the group still keeps to its side project roots by not taking itself too seriously. All of Duck Sauce’s tracks contain the theme of ducks; if the animal is not directly alluded to in the given song, it is featured in the track or album art work. In addition, the music videos contain ridiculous scenes you have to see to believe. I’m sure almost everyone reading this article has heard of the hit song Barbara Streisand from 2010 and perhaps even It’s You, Duck Sauce’s popular single that came out last year.
The new album, entitled Quack, was released April 15, and Duck Sauce didn’t hold back on the sampling. The style of Armand Van Helden and A-Trak is attributed to the creation of music around samples from other songs and sources of social media (Barbara Streisand was written around the sample of Gotta Go Home by Boney M.), and Quack continues that trend completely. Not all the samples are from songs. Many of the vocal samples are stripped from famous news broadcasts, comedy shows, and other sources, such as in the song Chariots of the Gods, which heavily features the sound of ducks quacking, old science fiction broadcast clips, and a somewhat bizarre original monologue introducing the album.
Even at the end of most songs that were previously released as singles free of these samples of people speaking, Duck Sauce added samples. While this is all great and artsy, and while I’m positive that, at a live venue, these clips would charge the crowd before a song drops, I’m not yet sure of how I feel about it on the studio album interrupting the smooth transitions between the songs.
With the exception of the gratuitous amount of clips, the songs stay true to Duck Sauce’s style. Duck Sauce’s style includes taking clips from older songs (from the 50s to the 80s), and creating electronic tracks that sound incredibly retro, containing influences from filtered disco, old-skool hip-hop, funk, electro, and late-90s French house. Essentially the group takes catchy riffs and makes them even catchier by revamping them. Think of the style in Barbara Streisand in every single song on the album. In fact, very few of the songs on the album are brand new. Barbara Streisand, It’s You, Radio Stereo, NRG, and aNYway were songs that were all pre-released over the past four years. Some of them, including NRG and It’s You, have already been officially remixed by electronic superstars such as Bingo Players, Hudson Mohawke, Skrillex, Kill the Noise, Dada Life, and DJ Snake.
I was very excited to see the little-known song aNYway make the final cut onto the album as it was the first song Duck Sauce ever produced. In addition, the alternative version of Barbara Streisand is killin’ it on this album. I love it. After listening to the whole album, my favorite songs are still the pre-released singles — although the songs Ring Me and Spandex are quickly growing on me, and I suspect the addictive sound of the other songs on the album will sway me as well in due time. I give this album a B. The songs are great, the production is great, but the voice clips were simply overindulged by the expert producers. However, it’s still worth a full listen.
Unfortunately, I can’t review all albums and EPs, but you should also check out these albums and EPs that were released recently: Built on Glass – Chet Faker, Don’t Wait EP – Mapei, Sweet Disarray – Dan Croll, Winter & The Wolves – Grieves, Truth Serum EP – Tove Lo, and, if you like Duck Sauce, Skrillex’s incredibly progressive new album Recess is much better than I thought.
First-year Brien Miceli is a staff writer. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.