March 5, 2006

Review: Delays "You See Colours"

Southampton band Delays (not The Delays) release their second album on Monday in the UK. This is the follow-up to 2004’s Faded Seaside Glamour. That album was great, if all over the place: it was hard to identify a unique band sound because they tried so much. Delays are ultimately defined, in my opinion, by lead singer Greg Gilbert’s Cocteau Twins double-voiced vocals. How does he do that? Maybe there are twins? He sounds like a choirboy on the high notes and then he has a bug in his throat on the lower octaves? You See Colours is a more consistent album and more playable than much of what I've bought in the past 6 months.

If there is a change in sound, it’s that they’ve woven in some more electronic sounds, especially on the swirling first single, “Valentine.” This one is about New Orleans and it weds electro verses to a guitar driven chorus. I love the end of the song when he sings, “I heard the last night on Earth is for living.” This track, like a few others, ends with a strange coda, but they’ve already gotten bonus points for the woo woo ambulance vocals.

The album opens dramatically with a falsetto a capella vocal that bleeds into a really urgent track that should be called “Cavalry.” It was until they stupidly renamed it “You And Me.” The standout single will be the jaunty Hideaway” – the sweetest piece of Britpop in ages. The chorus is instantaneous: “You are my only hideaway / You make the world seem bigger.” This one is the real valentine.

“Sink Like A Stone” has a Byrdsy / REM quality on the verses; it’s the kind of song that you ignore until it starts to stick inside your head after a few listens. “This Town’s Religion” will be a fave with the more indie-minded. I suspect it will be a single. The guitar is very Duran / Killers. Note also the passionate backing vocals in the last 30 seconds.

What the album is missing is a bit of strange – it just doesn’t have the little rococo flourish of the debut (like the Asian-sounding synths on “Wanderlust”). Still, it’s a solid effort and it closes with a lovely midtempo called ”Waste Of Space” – despite some bad opening lyrics (“like a billionaire with nothing to spare”) this song flutters along beautifully with a piano, falsetto “I love you” chouses and a truly spine-tingling middle eight. It’s almost too sweet, but I have a taste for sugar. Do you?

Sample tracks:

"Hideaway" MP3 courtesy of Into The Groove
"Waste Of Space" MP3 (one week only)

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