10 Jan 10
Delphic hail from Manchester (Which for those who’re keeping tabs has spawned such bands such as The Smiths, Joy Division, New Order, Stone Roses, Happy Mondays ect..), they used to hold impromptu raves in fields and in disused buildings, and on parts, this shows through the immaculately produced sound on this, their debut album. They also recently came 3rd on the BBC’s whats hot list for 2010 which is a bit like be crowned the third tallest midget, which is y’know, something. Disregard these thoughts for a moment and it’s extremely impressive, even without its press push and geographical pedigree.
Opening song “Clarion Call” busts through the gates, arpeggiated synths are backed up by ticking drums and a steadily building chord progression keeps the excitement building until the obligatory upwards key change comes in, throbbing away as James Cook throws around mysterious lyrics “A call to one/A call to arms/A call to everything you wanted”, sure its not the most lyrically advanced piece of songwriting but as with most of the album its compelling as hell, feeling more like a dance song than a skinny indie band, helping this thought is the suburb production and mixing, every beat is registered with precision rarely seen on modern albums, mostly i assume due to most music being consumed through cheap headphones or ipod docks, somewhat hampering the efforts, still its a nice touch and really gorgeous coupled with a great system. “Doubt” feels like it stands on a solid base of indie, throwing in more complete guitar work, although slightly hidden being waves and waves of intricate waves of electronic noise. Its a beautiful marriage between the two, never competing forces that encapsulates the post nu-rave euphoria that the album produces perfectly.
Other single “This Momentary” (Which, being an old fan, used to be called “This Momentary Monitor Mix”) starts off slower, almost willing itself to be remixed by every which way bedroom DJ until it does their job for them, a trick the album seems rather fond of, crying out “Lets do something real” among the ever louder crash of tribal drums, swelling, working itself to a point before a return to its slow beginnings for its fade out. “Red Lights” slides into a more disco groove, its on songs like this that you almost wish Cook wasn’t always there, his voice is admittedly fairly weak, its not bad or insulting in any possible way but you feel a band with such elegance and imagination could have found somebody with the voice to cut through it, rather than simply joining in the noise. Destined to find its way into house partys everywhere and even in the odd club “Red Lights” is shockingly impressive, even if it is less than shining compared to next door neighbour “Acyolyte”. opening with strings at the start of a dance song is always a risk, even if they are as hold your arms in the air euphoric as they are at the start of Acyolyte, soon, these are disregarded in favour of pumping beats, choral backing vocal and a steady bass beat, the band simply let the sounds do the talking and 3 minutes in, you cant help but throw yourself around just a little bit, its so perfectly put together and so heartfelt, a rarity for what is basically tantamount to dance music, relying on synth instead of acoustic guitars to show sadness is a bold move for sure but it pays off in dividends, a dance floor anthem with heart? Most definitely.
“Halcyon” continues the trend of song titles you have no idea what they mean and features one of those shout along chorus’s that festivals seem to like ever so much and “Submission” brings back the guitars for the only quasi guitar solo of the entire album, even if it is a very restrained one, an ever constant reminder that the boys have a real ear for writing pop songs that don’t surrender their artistic integrity, a real joy. “Counterpoint” is mildly convoluted but nothing but enjoyable, even if it does feel like a slightly heavy load after “Submission”. “Ephemera” feels like it should be the final song, acting as a sort of come down, as if the entire album is a night on drugs untill you collapse onto your bed and drift away. But that final song honour is left to “Remain” who’s piano chords and unobtrusive beats and twinkling synth sounds add up to way more than the sum of its parts, a trend found often in the album. It is unashamedly epic in scale whilst still feeling personal, a neat trick.
And that’s it, an album that pings from assured indie dance to euphoric hands-in-the-air style anthems. If they didn’t convince you with the several singles released from the album then i recommend you try out the album, its a real winner with a surprising amount of depth.