Thursday 31 January 2013

Delphic - Collections

Delphic posted a very telling interview on their website in the wake of releasing ‘Collections’, the band’s second album.  Their debut ‘Acolyte’ (released in 2009) was a reaction against “NME guitar bands”, an album that was “heavily dance influenced and featured euphoric builds set to hooky melodies”.  Though underappreciated by the mainstream, ‘Acolyte’ certainly lived up to these claims.  Yet, in the band’s own words, with ‘Collections’ “we have changed quite drastically…we had to rebel against ourselves and against the current trend”. 

There’s certainly no harm in artists reimagining themselves.  From Radiohead to Madonna, this can be the key to longevity.  And, importantly, this still sounds like a Delphic record – those euphoric builds and hooky melodies haven’t gone anywhere.  Yet the band don’t quite live up to their own lofty ambition to “push music forwards”. 

With ‘Collections’, the band have retained their mostly electronic aesthetic, but widened their instrumentation.  Piano, strings, guitars and vocal harmonies all feature, differing from the synthesised bleeps and bloops of ‘Acolyte’.  The tracks are more freely structured in a move away from the constrictions of dance music.  In the process, however, they have diluted their own individuality.  Yeasayer, Hurts, Hot Chip, Passion Pit and MGMT are all operating in this pool of music – now Delphic can wholeheartedly be added to this list.

Is this such a bad thing?  The band may not have succeeded in their ambitious vision, but the album is no less captivating.  Current single Baiya is an initially gripping track, all Asian-inspired melodies and infectious beats gearing towards the chorus’s “all hell is breaking loose” vocal hook (a lyric similar to the chorus of Yeasayer’s Demon Road).  Atlas, the album’s lengthy centrepiece, focuses on a biting guitar riff accompanied by dissonant, yearning vocal harmonies as nuanced electronica swirls and shifts, before dropping into stabs of distorted guitar.  Freedom Found slows the pace with a ballad reminiscent of Hot Chip’s Look At Where We Are; Changes is characterised by bright, brilliant production; and The Sun Also Rises aims towards the anthemic with its elongated melodies. 

The psychedelic funk can be intoxicating, but as a whole the album lacks the consistent hooks of the band’s debut to keep the listener grounded.  Those tracks with the clearest hooks have instant appeal, others are easily lost and forgotten.  And whilst the rap on Exotic is a brave inclusion, it’s a jarring misstep in the context of the whole album.

So ‘Collections’ may not be as idiosyncratic as Delphic wish, but with this album they have established that they are not afraid of change, progress and experimentation.  In that respect, they deserve to stand shoulder to shoulder with their peers.


Gizzle's choice:
* Baiya
* Freedom Found
* Atlas

Listen: 'Collections' is available now.

Watch: Delphic are touring the UK in February.