Album Review – Baxter Dury: The Night Chancers

Album Review – Baxter Dury: The Night Chancers 

‘You left me with the noise of the night chancers,’ yelps Baxter Dury on the titular track of this, his sixth album. 

But who are the night chancers? Dury describes them as those hotel ravers who are out for ‘good cheer till the wee hours’, but this LP projects little good cheer; instead, The Night Chancers is a brilliant, sordid peek into the pursuit of after-hours promiscuity, jealous insecurity and palpable heartbreak.

He might be coming off the back of the universal praise of 2017’s Prince of Tears, but only Slumlord here comes close to matching the crossover appeal of the synthpop groove of its lead single Miami. Though that’s not a knock against this project, at ten tracks and thirty minutes in length The Night Chancers doesn’t overstay its welcome and Dury’s knack for observation through his sly, smirking delivery against pulsating synths, hip-hop percussion and slinking disco basslines makes it a compelling listen.

Dury is a joy to listen to, his descriptions so sharp and realised you could be fooled into being able to smell the dulling red wine and stale aftershave steaming out of the speakers. The Night Chancers might feature some of his most colourful characterisations yet, though with current affairs considered, I doubt you’d want to be quarantined with any of for them for too long.

The female vocal refrains which pepper the album with a hint of French pop glamour too eventually succumb to the disco gloom of Dury’s vignettes, crooning ‘Who the fuck are you my friend?’ amidst the chorus strings of  Saliva Hog, and moaning in unison throughout the slithering Samurai.

It’s on Daylight that Dury showcases the strongest sympathy for his subject; over a swooping instrumental he contributes more vocally here than on any other track, crafting a tangible heartbreak reminiscent of The Streets’ Dry Your Eyes as Baxter tenderly murmurs ‘You went missing into the night time / And I knew that was it forever’.

The Night Chancers sees Dury continue to carve out his niche as the most vital cockney conversationalist and one of pop music’s most unique voices, only Australian singer-songwriter Alex Cameron comes to mind as his contemporary; both modern raconteurs, masters of guiding a listener into worlds occupied by social media snake charmers, midnight cowboys and Jilted-Johns, all the while staying effortlessly charismatic.

More from Baxter Dury here.
The Night Chancers is out now on Heavenly Records – watch the video for opening track I’m Not Your Dog below.

Review by Ryan Bell

24th March 2020