Spanish quartet Delorean have always been adept at creating glistening and evocative dance music that fits with the seasons. Their last album, 2010’s Subiza, was very much a record of heady dance floor euphoria. Its Balearic charms did much to bring the band to a wider audience and it’s with that wider audience that they seek to engage further on fourth album Apar. Frontman and songwriter Ekhi Lopetegi states that this album is their “big production album”. Apar is certainly a record that lives up to that statement, as the band push their songs to a greater level beyond dance floor exaltation into something deeper and more affecting.
While Subiza evoked summer’s long nights and sense of carefree abandon, Apar fittingly arrives as summer breathes its last breath before heading into the more reflective autumn months. The songs here nicely straddle that divide between euphoria and melancholy that the gradual changing of seasons brings to mind. The most obvious change is that Delorean are no longer merely a band making dance music. These are brilliantly evocative and realised pop songs. The influence of the club and its attendant whooshes, builds and drops are still present but they are tempered with a heartfelt purity as the band embrace ’80s influenced soft rock and soaring pop. There is a vulnerability to Delorean’s music as exemplified on lead single Spirit. Here, the synths and pianos shimmer gloriously in a gentle stirring lilt. It’s a different kind of party Delorean are now soundtracking, but the soundtrack is arguably more special.
There is a striking advancement in songwriting present here. Dominion and Destitute Time are peerless examples of swooning, glistening pop reminiscent of Phoenix or the ’80s tinged AOR pop of Chairlift. Indeed, Chairlift’s Caroline Polachek pops up to add a lovely vocal to Unhold, a track that’s indicative of the album’s bigger and more expansive sound.
Part of Apar’s charm is its strong sense of yearning melancholy. Even the most obviously bright and funky tracks, like Walk High, withits jittery guitar funk licks, feature a degree of emotional vulnerability as Lopetegi delivers lines like “You’ll never be mine because you’re too high”. The mood deftly turns however from self-doubt into joy following the sunburst explosion of colour that is Inspire. These subtle changes in mood are a feature of the band’s more dextrous approach, helped by painting with a broader sonic palette.
The production is glossy and spacious throughout, and sounds as though the band have spared no expense in giving the songs everything they need. Saxophones, sweeping synths and big booming drums are a regular feature. These sonic tricks give tracks like Keep Up a feeling of swelling epic grandeur and help embellish the darker and denser sound of Your Face. The result is a far more satisfying and enduring sound than Delorean have previously managed.
It’s always a joy to hear a band blossoming into something bigger and bolder. Apar is the glorious sound of Delorean taking that step. As summer turns to autumn these exceptional, shimmering pop songs will surely long ring out.