Delays - You See Colours
Ross Fairhurst 06/03/2006
Much is expected of Delay's new album after the stand alone single “Lost in a melody” showed us all what to expect with it's heavy electronic influence and infectious beat. The band's electronic side was criminally underused on their first album 2003's "Faded Seaside Glamour" which was mainly a bright summery indie pop album with guitars reminiscent of the 60's. The tracks that did touch upon their electronic influences demonstrated the potential the band had for their follow up album. But has this been realised?
It is safe to say that the band is pretty eager to show their progression and start off the album with "Cavalry." The sole vocal of lead singer Greg Gilbert leads us into a highly sampled multi layered synth riff and it is straight away very clear this is indeed a very different kettle of fish from their first album. The song is a fast paced sing-a-long awash with sampled strings and plentiful backing vocals all backed up with the brilliant rhythm kept up by the skilful drumming and rhythm guitar playing. On first listen however, it sounds slightly like A-ha, you'll have to make your own mind up whether this is a good or bad thing! The song fades out and leads into 15 seconds of feedback and clanging bells which leads us into….
The fantastic synth riff of lead single “Valentine” which then leads us into the yet again brilliant dance influenced drums which in turn lead us into the funky scratch guitar. This keeps on getting better! “Valentine” is the funky sibling of “Lost in a melody” and showcases the bands potential to the maximum. The rhythm, patterns and synths scream out dance and electronica yet this song has classic pop written all over it and is inevitably catchy.
The track “This town's religion” is a more indie influenced stomper that has a fantastic bass line and unbelievably catchy vocals and yet another foot tapping beat. I was disappointed how low the drums were in the mix of their debut album so the prominent drums are a real plus. It has to be said this is the strongest start to any album this year….
But there has to be a catch. After yet another link from one song to another we are lead into the song “Sink like a stone” which is basically a showcase for the trademark Delays sampled backing vocals. It isn't particularly bad but after the strong start it seems really average and it doesn't really go anywhere.
This is followed by, for me anyway, the poorest track of the album “Too much in your life”. It starts as a decent enough slightly rockier number that halfway is suddenly transformed into a gentle, painfully slow exhibition of vocal melodies over some gentle strumming and drumming. The change seems just really pointless to me and ruins a decent track and slows the album down to a snails pace.
Another synth riff bellows out and leads us into another decent softer song called “Take your heart from your sleeve”. This song wouldn't go amiss on their debut album as the drums are back low again and the guitar playing is sparse chords when needed with vocal melodies all over the place but again it just goes nowhere.
Alas! We finally get back on track with the brilliant “Given the time”. This along with the first 3 tracks screams out to be a single. A brilliant pop sing-along chorus is backed up with some bright yet rocky verses with interesting use of backing vocals and effects. This differs from the last 3 tracks in that it builds up and down and is a really refreshing listen after the bland last 3 tracks.
“Hideaway” features the 60's esque song writing that Delays are known for but with a bright pop edge. The drums and chorus remind me of bopping 60's school kids being mischievous…..you'll know what I mean if you hear it! This is followed by a 40 second snippet of an acoustic melody played over the sound of sampled voices. Nice but ultimately pointless.
“Lillian” has a distinct 70's feel to it with the occasional “Hey!” being shouted reminding me of school discos. This is however a rockier affair built around another synth pattern.
“Out of nowhere” has again the Delays 60's esque song writing style all over it and in such it shows the difference in musical style between the two albums. The song has layers all over it and a quicker heavier feel to it rather than the bright jangly feel you expect it would have had on the debut album.
The final track “Waste of space” is simply gorgeous and disregards the rest of the album by sticking to acoustic instruments only. It has a distinctly warm feeling to it and brings the album to a beautiful finish.
This album was frequently delayed due to changes to production and the like but I can honestly say the album has benefited no end from this. The production is absolutely superb with so many subtle layers of guitar, backing vocals and synths bringing out a brilliant pop side to the electronica and indie on this album.
So does this album show the bands potential? Yes, it does but sticking the “worst” 3 songs straight after the 3 standout tracks was not a clever idea. The first 3 songs are almost too good and expose the weaknesses of the following 3 which are not particularly bad but seem really poor in comparison to the first 3. It just leaves you feeling so disappointed but it does pick up. If you can get past this there is a brilliant album in there somewhere despite the disappointing track listing.