To truly understand the essence of Duke Special, you need to understand that underneath the feculent dreadlocks, the eyeliner that'd put Robert Smith to shame, and the outfits assembled from Boy George's charity donation bag, there actually lurks a talented songwriter. Since he released his first album in 2005 (a collection of early EPs brought together under the title Adventures in Gramaphone), Irish, and indeed, UK audiences have taken the man born Peter Wilson to their bosoms. It could be because of his likeable demeanour, or perhaps it's just down to his experiments with piano and horns that have been dubbed 'vaudeville pop' - but his second studio album, 'I Never Thought This Day Would Come', only serves to further his repute.
It's true; Special's unquestionable speciality is writing songs that doff their hat to the likes of Rufus Wainwright and Burt Bacharach. Sweet, Sweet Kisses' assured, understated beat is as honeyed as its title, and the jaunty, Victorian goth-pop of Diggin' An Early Grave and funky, dancehall stomp of Flesh and Blood Dance provide an equally addictive sugar-rush - all delivered in that sinewy Belfast thrum. Special's fellow Norn Irish composer Van the Man also gets a wee look-in from time-to-time - especially on the soulful, horn-laden Let Me Go, and the groovy swing of closer Nothing You Could Do Can Bring Me 'Round.
With guest contributions from the likes of Bernard Butler, MayKay from Fight Like Apes, and Foy Vance, I Never Thought This Day Would Come may be lacking a big-hitting ballad like Freewheel, but its consistent radiance means that it doesn't really need one.