Delta Spirit - History From Below

Sam Lee 09/08/2010

Rating: 4/5

Here's one for you - what do The Beach Boys and Katy Perry have in common? Yep, that's the one - both of them have written or performed songs paying homage to Californian girls (or, in Ms. Perry's case, 'Gurls'). But it seems a bit unfair to me that the blokes in California are slightly overshadowed by the fairer sex, especially when amongst the fellas are bands like Long Beach quartet Delta Spirit.

Their second album, 'History From Below' opens with the slightly unfortunately titled '9/11', a glistening nugget of sunny Californian pop, followed by the equally uptempo but slightly melancholy 'Bushwick Blues'. Next, the lengthy 'Salt In The Wound', slows things down somewhat before the droning intro of 'White Table' builds the tension until - just as it feels like it can't possibly go anywhere else - the thunderous drums break loose and the whole track opens up wonderfully, coming to an anthemic finale.

'Ransom Man' is a perfect blend of old and new, with chords that sound like they've been around forever and traditional-sounding lyrics, combined with quirky and otherworldly production. 'Golden State' is an instantaneous chunk of unabashed feel-good Americana that lifts the mood right up with lyrics like 'Good friends remain / Even through the pain / Of a long road ahead'. 'Scarecrow' continues the American vibe with its homely rural soundscapes behind the fingerpicked acoustic guitar giving the track a nostalgic warmth, before 'St. Francis' , which starts off sounding like 'House Of The Rising Sun', but in it's dying seconds becomes more akin to Scat Cat's band of alley cats from The Aristocats (which can only be a good thing in my books). Unfortunately, the final track 'Ballad of Vitaly' is downbeat and, at times, downright dull, which, at over eight minutes long, results in a bit of a drawn-out and disappointing end to the album.

'History From Below' is something of a multi-faceted record. It's buoyant, yet it's wistful; it's roots are in the past, but it definitely doesn't sound obsolete. Although it opens with two upbeat and infectious pop songs in the form of '9/11' and 'Bushwick Blues', on the whole this album's a bit of a grower. Tracks like 'Ransom Man' and 'Devil Knows You're Dead' really do reward a bit of patience and a few listens, with melodies that ever-so-slowly worm their way into your head.

After I listened to this album for the first time I thought I was going to give it a maximum of three stars, but after giving it a chance I'm going to knock that up by - wait for it - a whole star! OH MY GOD!