In a fast-paced world, hipster string bands can't afford to get into a rut. There is no hipper string band than the Duhks, and for their fourth album they have, in their own words, "invented a new sound." It's not a completely original sound, but it's new for them, and originality in pop music is overrated anyway. What we get on Fast Paced World is a bracing mixture of blues, rock, hot jazz, Celtic, gypsy, Latin, and pop styles, all delivered with an exhilarating blend of skillful tightness and wild emotional abandon. Lead singer Sarah Dugas (who joined the band in 2007) brings an extra-dark flavor to the Duhks' sound, delivering songs like the torchy "This Fall" and a bluesy, barn-burning rendition of the hurricane ballad "Mighty Storm" in a sweetly gritty roar. Elsewhere the band delves into straight-up rock & roll (on the deftly rocking but lyrically facile title track) and Brazilian pop (on the brilliant "Magalenha"), and Dugas indulges her French skills to no apparent purpose on "Toujours Vouloir." (It made musical sense to sing "Magalenha" in Portuguese, but "Toujours Vouloir" comes across as mere showing-off.) When the band returns to its trad roots, the results are no less fiery and impressive: the reel set "New Rigged Ship" is one of the album's many high points. Someday the Duhks may find their natural style and settle into it, and when they do, their albums will become much less interesting.
Review by Rick Anderson, All Music Guide