Manchester trio’s second shot at hugeness is a bit Passion Pit here, a bit dubstep there, but ultimately fails to launch
Three years ago, Mancunian trio Delphic were hyped up by tipsters promising that their debut album ‘Acolyte’ was going to change the world. The band’s subsequent failure to launch was, therefore, puzzling. Their blend of dance and indie was less generic than most other things doing the rounds, and they seemed custom-built to become an arena-sized success. Returning three years after their first album was released, ‘Collections’ arrives with less expectation on its shoulders and talk from the band of channelling the music of Frank Ocean and Aaliyah.
“We didn’t want to release something that would mean we could just go back on tour and have fun. We just want to make a really great record,” synth player Rick Boardman told NME last year, and the beginning of the album will convince you that Delphic have ticked that box. ‘Of The Young’ and ‘Baiya’ burst out of the blocks, using first-album highlights like ‘Halcyon’ as a launchpad to push things forward and show that frontman James Cook is still capable of delivering festival-shaking choruses. Elsewhere on ‘Collections’, ‘Freedom Found’ comes on like Passion Pit, capturing the fizzing energy of euphoria in a way Delphic generally seemed unable to express first time around.
Unsurprisingly, however, the R&B direction they’ve hinted at is undetectable. At a push, the voicemail messages running through ‘Tears Before Bedtime’ sound a bit like Drake track ‘Marvin’s Room’, but it might be best to file that claim alongside the countless bands who say they “don’t even listen to indie” (hello, Kele from Bloc Party) but who sound like all they listen to is The Cure.
Perhaps the biggest problem with ‘Collections’, though, is ‘Atlas’, in which guitarist Matt Cocksedge embraces the wub and attempts to recreate the sound of a dubstep drop with his guitar. It’s safe to say Skrillex has nothing to worry about. On its own it is painful, and on a larger scale it reveals the musical no man’s land Delphic inhabit.
‘Collections’ is a confident and professional album, not all that different to ‘Acolyte’. And it’s not different enough. The musical landscape has changed since their debut was released in 2010. The UK dance music scene is stronger than ever, with the likes of Hudson Mohawke, SBTRKT and Disclosure taking innovative sounds from the underground into the mainstream, while guitar bands like Palma Violets, Tame Impala and The Horrors have reverted to a dirtier, more raucous and primal sound. Delphic fall between these two worlds and ‘Collections’ seems unlikely to appeal to fans of either. That long-awaited launch date may just have to wait a bit longer.