Wednesday, April 21, 2004
Faded Seaside Glamour
You may have already read this on Stylus
Delays look like mid-90s hairdressers. Which is to say that they’re even more camply and messily stylised than The Cooper Temple Clause. Which is to say that if you saw them in the street you’d thing they were nobheads. Which is to say that… They’re from Southampton, which is most definitely not Brighton. I doubt they take pot plants on stage with them. Or potted plants. Maybe pot plants.
Anyway, four boys from Southampton with silly hair and some guitars and a singer who sounds, when he realises what he should be doing, like a girl. And a really beautiful girl at that. Delays also have some Cocteau Twins records, some Byrds records, probably that first Verve album, and, as their secret weapon, Graham Sutton (Bark Psychosis) on production duties. As such Faded Seaside Glamour sounds absolutely immaculate and beautiful and crystalline and occasionally just noisy and ragged enough to not make you feel like you’re being slowly squeezed through a piece of perfectly clean and clear glass into a strange alternate universe where Sigur Ros are rabbits and Kate Bush is an enormous smiling cat.
“Wanderlust” starts with synthetic steel drums and sounds like a collaboration between Liz Fraser, Plaid and some boys with guitars and lots of reverb pedals. Obviously this means that it’s marvellous and makes me want to be a bird or something, particularly when the girlboy voice impels us to “come over / we’ll go missing”, the running-away-together meme never sounding quite so ethereal and compelling. And those steel drums, oh boy. “Nearer Than Heaven” follows quickly afterwards and is almost as lovely, laden with harmonies like The Byrds dissolved through a kaleidoscope, and slowly devolves in a haze of guitar abuse and echo. The opening triumvirate is completed in style by “Long Time Coming”, in which singer Greg Gilbert (he does have a name, after all) perhaps inadvisably sinks from his McAlmont-esque dream-woven falsetto into a gruffer register, but the arrangement, tune and, most prominently, the production, save the song from failing drastically and in fact take it somewhere wonderful.
And that’s the key to this record. On about 30% of the songs Delays strike pay dirt; as well as the opening trio, single “Hey Girl” soars like The Hollies, closer “On” is beautiful house-y shoegaze, and “Stay Where You Are” rocks in an understated, rich way, but the likes of “Bedroom Scene” and “There’s Water Here” are largely inconsequential. Nice enough melodies and average tunes are repeatedly elevated by the superlative, rich and detailed production which makes Delays sound like a much better band than they actually are. Still, while it lasts, Faded Seaside Glamour is a beautiful trip. You just might not feel compelled to take it all that often.
4/21/2004 10:32:00 pm