Last night LOUD HORIZON rather excitedly posted a comment about Edinburgh septet DELTA MAINLINE, and asserting that on the basis of the ‘highlighted’ track, ‘Florentine Regime,’ the forthcoming album ‘Oh! Enlightened,‘ is going to be something special.
Well, having now had a chance to listen to the album in it’s entirety the first thing I have to say is that the aforementioned track is not exactly typical of the remaining thirty-four and a half minutes. That’s not to say it’s potential to sell in healthy numbers and garner much critical acclaim is diminished – but maybe it was a little bit misleading as far as my personal taste goes.
I’ll qualify that comment however. Even though it may generally be a little ‘downbeat’ for me personally, you just know it’s one hugely classy album. It’s hard to say just why that is, but when you listen to ‘Oh! Enlightened,’ as a continuous piece, something intangible shines through.
Opening track ‘Tus Nua,’ opens quietly and the synth drone builds throughout its forty-four second duration before crashing straight into ‘Misinformation,’ which rages in a furious flurry of searing guitar and crashing cymbals. The vocals are slightly distorted and spat with a punk / rock ‘n’ roll rhythm. The tempo is unrelenting ….. this is an excellent start!
‘Stop This Feeling,‘ slows things down as it opens with the vocals taking on what I consider a slightly choked, Eighties goth style, then morphing into a latter day Jim Kerr style. In fact, even the superb big ‘wide-screen’ production cannot stop me thinking this track sounds like something from Simple Minds back in the late Eighties.
‘Dead Beat Blues,’ has a haunting feel to it. There are definite ‘traditional’ Scottish influences at work on this one and the image it conjures (for me) is of a motionless, dark loch with the mountains rising above it. (I tried ever so hard not to think this way … !!)
‘Fixing To Die,’ sounds a right cheery little ditty! Actually, it is a lovely song! I’m not big on ballad types, but starting out simply with piano and vocals it expands into a big, rousing production before dropping back down again. This followed by ‘The Church Is Up For Sale.’ Another slow one, but with reverb- drenched guitars rising and falling, shrouding the deep sounding, tremolo-enhanced vocals, it’s easy to see where the occasional comparison to Spiritualised comes from. (Perhaps a little Jesus and Mary Chain / Simple Minds in there too?) At almost six and a half minutes, it’s a bit of an ‘epic,’ and certainly one of my favourites on the album – one track that I think will in future become the band’s ‘standard.’
‘The Strange Fate Of Raoul Duke’ is a very short (sub one minute) and quiet acoustic song that leads into ‘Florentine Regime.’
‘Home To You,‘ is a downbeat blues inflected song that opens up into something altogether more expansive with the addition of a brass section before it finishes as it began, with quiet piano. Again, you can possibly hear a little bit of a Jason Pierce influence on this one.
The penultimate track is ‘Dark Energy,’ although I would have saved this one to last! (But then, what do I know?) The atmospheric start transforms into a psych / space-rock / shoegaze cacophony – much more up my street! The video of the live version perhaps doesn’t quite capture the same intensity of sound as the album track, but none-the-less gives a feel of what DELTA MAINLINE are capable of.
Closing track ‘Self Inflicted Ills,’ is a sort of piano led, blues / country hybrid – a nice enough song, but a bit of an atmosphere killer after the excitement of the previous one.
So, yes …. I’m still predicting big things for DELTA MAINLINE – they seem to have enough in heir armoury to go down either the raucous, psych route or the more introspective and moody road.
Personally, I hope it’s the former!
(‘Oh! Enlightened’ is released through Rehab Sound Recordings on 20th May 2013)
(8.5 / 10)