From the moment I saw Delphic at Reading Festival in 2009 I was smitten with their style of guitar electro. They were my little gem of the Festival and I couldn’t wait to see them again. I went to the first Delphic gig I could, which happened to be at the Oxford’s O2 Academy the following January. The gig was small but perfect, and it coincided with the release of their first album, “Acolyte”. And since that gig I have played that album to death.
So you could say that I was rather impatient to get my hands on their next album. I knew it would have a lot to live up to, given the brilliance of “Acolyte”, and finally, some three years after that first album was released, today sees the release of their second album, “Collections” (although the band has been streaming it online for the last couple of weeks).
Starting with the first track, “Of The Young”, I first had to check that the cones in my speakers hadn’t blown because there was a bit of distortion and a strangeness in balance which seemed out of place. After testing other stuff I soon realised that this is a feature of this song, but for me it was very distracting. For the first song of the album it didn’t stand out for me like the first track of their previous album (the fantastic “Clarion Call” which is my favourite track on the entire album, mostly because it’s one of those tracks that blows stress away at full volume when main part of the song kicks in). I was a little disappointed because the impact just wasn’t there.
Moving onto “Baiya”, the lead single of the album which was previewed at the end of 2012, this does sound a lot more like the old Delphic. It has more electronic elements and a driving beat throughout, and a nice acoustic break. This is followed by “Changes” which opens with vocals and a simple piano riff, and becomes more electronic than the previous two tracks. However it is slow paced and laboured, and the influence of the 80s R&B and hip hop that the band admitted they had listened to while writing the album is evident. This track is followed by another slow paced song, “Freedom Found”, which again really reflects the same influences.
The next track, “Atlas”, is the best track so far. It reminds me, for some reason, of Fleetwood Mac, perhaps because of the plodding kick drum. It has a pleasing balance of ethereal vocals, good guitar riff and a nice bridge section, and they have even tried to shoehorn a bit of dubstep in there. “Tears Before Bedtime” follows, starting with a one-sided phone conversation and some haunting piano with some really stunning drifting vocals. The track is beautifully executed….until the muted trumpet chimes in. Sadly, for me, this detracts from the song completely, making it sound like 80s TV music, which is a crying shame because otherwise the track is great.
“The Sun Also Rises” starts more promisingly, with more pace and a good bassline, and is more memorable than the tracks at the start of the album. After that, “Memeo”, for me, is the best track on the album. The hip hop influence is clear (there’s even a Justin Timberlake-esque “Oh” on a loop in the background), but it is also reminiscent of Everything Everything, and is more like the old Delphic.
“Don’t Let The Dreamers Take You Away”, is a strange mix of their old style (in the verses) and hip hop (in the chorus). It doesn’t work for me at all, and the result is that it just goes on a bit. The penultimate track, “Exotic”, starts with a bit of beatboxing, and is another slow-paced track which sits firmly in the hip hop genre, complete with rapping. Personally I don’t think that style suits Delphic whatsoever.
Finally, the re-edit of “Good Life” is a more uplifting end to the album, harking back to the more electronic roots of the band’s previous album.
Overall I have to say that, as an ardent fan of Delphic’s electro guitar style of “Acolyte”, I was a tad disappointed by “Collections”. Gone are the memorable guitar riffs, the electronic wall of sound and the sheer energy of their previous tracks, and they have been replaced by a collection of slow paced tracks in a mish mash of styles, some of which work (just) and others which do not. Perhaps I will change my mind when I see the tracks being performed live in a couple of weeks (it has been known to happen), but for now I will pin my hopes on them quickly releasing a third album which goes back to their former brilliance.