by / October 2nd, 2009 /

Delorentos – You Can Make Sound

 3/5 Rating

(Delo)

When approaching Delorentos‘ second album, it would be remiss not to mention the difficult gestation period behind its release. After all, it will dominate much of the record’s media coverage over the coming weeks. The story is such – having mirrored growing acclaim with an excellent debut in 2007’s In Love With Detail, the Dublin four-piece found themselves on the brink of penning a record deal only to see that particular dream collapse in tow with the world economy. Further frustration followed amid plans to release their debut in the UK, and a black cloud began to hover over Camp Delorentos Portrane base. Shattered, depressed and frustrated with the ups and downs involved with being in a band approaching Ireland’s glass ceiling of success, guitarist and vocalist Ronan Yourell quit. A statement was issued and You Can Make Sound was pencilled in as a final farewell – a thank you to the group’s fan base. As it turned out, the split was premature and within weeks, Yourell had reconsidered his position.

In listening to the fruits of their labour, it’s a good thing Yourell had a change of heart. You Can Make Sound would have made for a tepid swan song from a group capable of better. It’s not that album number two is a bad record; it’s just that it’s not as good as we might have expected. Musically, the 11 tracks remain as tight as their predecessors, as they again spring forth amid jerky riffs and snappy melodies. In other words, the blue print for their debut has been largely adhered too. Not a bad thing necessarily of course. Sharp, jagged, melodic indie guitar pop ala The Strokes is, after all, what Delorentos do best. Yet, in listening to You Can Make Sound, there’s a niggling feeling that – on the evidence of their debut alone – there’s a better record than this in the Co Dublin four-piece. Where In Love With Detail benefitted from a dark under-current, bled throughout the record, much of its follow up seems, by contrast, rather one-dimensional.

But let’s focus on the positives. Lead single ‘Secret’ is the best thing they’ve done and stands towering above anything else here. Catchy, fun and fresh sounding – without utilising anything that hasn’t been used before – it manages to sound both effortless and well-thought out and – most of all – sounds like a band having a lot of fun. ‘Body Cold’ distils the bands core sound into a gorgeous, spiky tune, humming with melody as twin guitars cascade off and duel against each other. It may sound a bit light on record, but it will surely become a favourite in their live set, and borrows just a tad from The Killers with its -I’m not a follower, I want to lead’ refrain. There’s much to also enjoy in catchy title track ‘You Can Make Sound’, the sharp ‘Soulmate’ and ‘You Say You’ll Never Love Her’, so drowned in indie guitar-pop it sounds like it could have been penned by The Blizzards.

Yet something still niggles. The key word remains -fresh’, and too often the record sounds like a regurgitation. Tracks like ‘Editorial’ and ‘Hallucinations’ have their moments and aren’t too bad by most standards – but they’ve no real staying power, and really, aren’t as good as anything on their debut. Like a lot of the tracks, they also lack any real imagination in the way they’re arranged, often falling back on breaking down to a slower pace before building back up. There may be more positives to be found in bassist Nial Conlon’s vocal debut, his voice injecting real vulnerability into ‘Let The Light Go Out’, but the track itself seems to plod along without actually really going anywhere. It’s a fate that also befalls ‘I’ll Remember’, a slow piano and acoustic led track, which needs stronger lyrics to have any real resonance.

And therein lies one of the album’s bigger flaws – its lyrical content. While the darker tones of their debut papered over any lyrical simplicity, the cracks are exposed here. For an intelligent group of individuals, Delorentos have very little to say and it’s hard to grab hold of and engage with any of the tracks on a lyrical level. And that matters. The only track to display any real lyrical strength is ‘Leave Me Alone’, laced with some fine imagery such as one image of swimming attached to a piece of rope as ‘I choke out the words that I need to say to your face.’

Some will argue we may be expecting more than we deserve. Financial constraints and having the space and time to actually focus on writing songs while taking care off the business/booking/ promotion/ distribution/ managing side that comes with being an independent entity in Ireland, means Irish acts often endure a much more difficult whip of second album syndrome to their UK counterparts (or indeed in making any record). There is no record company to cover costs and a small touring circuit with which to drum up finances. But Delorentos are reaching for bigger thing and on that level they should be judged. They are a fine band. It’s good to still have them. Yet there’s better than this to come. When the dust has settled, You Can Make Sound will be seen as a stepping-stone to, hopefully, better things.

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