“I don’t know enough people who stay up all night, who talk themselves in circles and never say they’re right,” sighs Belfast singer-songwriter Duke Special on “Stargazers of the World Unite,” his 10th album’s opening track and a song that expresses his longing for a social circle of Kerouac-like romantics, dreamers and firebrands. It’s a desire that serves as a mission statement for this heady, overwrought record on which the dreadlocks-sporting Duke — better known to his nearest and dearest as Peter Wilson — once again conjures up fierce, flamboyant pop magic from elements as disparate as vaudeville, baroque electro-pop and keening Celtic soul. In lesser hands, such conflicting constituent parts would only yield a musical dog’s dinner, but Wilson plucks alchemy from potential anarchy thanks to a seemingly endless reservoir of great tunes and melodies. His dexterous and nimble keyboard-driven pop evokes literate mavericks such as Marc Almond, the Divine Comedy and even Ben Folds, yet the soaring choruses of tracks like “Punch of a Friend” and “Nothing Shall Come Between Us” are as giddily infectious as Keane at their most chart-friendly. “I want the world to make some sense,” breathes Duke Special on the spectral “Lost Chord”: His own idiosyncratic musical universe is very much in order.
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