Just when you think you’ve got the Delays sussed and their style pinned down to a tee, up pops another record to convince you otherwise.
The prolific Southampton band specialise in confounding their listeners in that department – but that’s not a problem, as most of said listeners are enjoying the music too much to care about its origins and its influences. Their loyal fanbase is a testament to their appeal – but perhaps it’s time a few of the more general public sat up and took some notice.
What really makes this ambitious band work their ideas out so well on record is Greg Gilbert’s voice. He leads a song like Rhapsody with a commanding presence, yet something in the delivery of his vocal lends a certain vulnerability, despite the big beats and spacious ambience underneath and overhead.
This, like many songs on the self-released fourth album, has moments of pure beauty. It’s as if the band are delighting in exploring new sounds to go with Gilbert’s distinctive tones, and perhaps more importantly relishing the freedom of their own record label.
There are several moments to shorten the breath, chief among them the golden vocal harmonies of May ’45, the precise spot when the guitars and bass hit the ground running part way through In Brilliant Sunshine, and the title track in general – a fusion of raw riffing and massive beats that lends more of a rock attitude.
Just towards the end the record loses momentum a little, the meandering of Moment Gone and Lakes Can Be Lethal lulling the senses somewhat, but that only serves to clear the way for the big finish, where everything gets beefed up once again and we finish on an affirmative high.
Too many guitar bands these days plough a safe, soft rock furrow – but Delays aren’t here for that. The swooping romanticism of their songs is infectious, the listener carried along on a wave of high emotion throughout until being set gently down at the end. They are underrated treasures who we should make more of – and may become part of a New Forest uprising, if this album reaches the right ears.