There’s a delicate balance between simplicity and complexity in children’s songs like “Baby Beluga” or “I am a Pizza.” Music that’s overly complex or difficult to listen to can be alienating to children—or anyone really. Music that’s too simple will bore children (and their parents).
According to their press release Duplex’s sophomore release continues their mission to deliver indie rock to kids. Occasionally this album probably errs on the side of complexity for a five-year-old, but there’s a lot of fun tracks here that kids will get into. “That’s How we Make a Sandwich” is catchy as hell, easy to sing along to and about an activity that’s fun to participate in. “7 Noble Gases” is an educational intro to chemistry that disguises itself as a ridiculous heavy rock song. The album stands strongest when it’s trying to be fun, and it’s hard not to imagine kids rocking out with their parents to those ones.
Where the album falls down is when it tries to introduce heavier subjects, like evolution, with cringe worthy lyrics such as those on “Alive” (“Species, what is species? / Not a matter of distinction but a matter of degree”) or the story of same-sex divorce, which is unlikely to help any child going through it to feel any better about the situation (“We’re unhappy / We feel stuck / We give up up up up / You will see we’ll love you more / Instead of two dads now you’ll have four.”)
Gaffes like that aside, this album is pretty adorable and the players on the album (Veda Hille, Geoff Berner, members of No Kids and AC Newman to name a few) do an excellent job of putting together simple songs that will do a good job of bridging the gap between Raffi and the New Pornographers for young listeners.