While it’s still far from the inevitable backlash guaranteed to smack any ferociously hyped band in the noggin, Delphic has just dropped a crafted, inspiriting debut that is curiously getting a bit of a drubbing for being derivative whilst being enthusiastically praised for doing it so damn well.
While fleeting comparisons to other dance-rock kids like Klaxons, Friendly Fires and Bloc Party feel arbitrary, Manchester’s new, synth-infatuated prodigal band does owe a heavy debt to the Factory Records crew, namely New Order. You might say that Acolyte is the album that we’d secretly hoped Bad Lieutenant had released last year: beautiful, slow-to-burn builds, galloping keyboards, anxious vocals and woozy, Ibiza-at-dawn embraces. The sleek, cerebral bass-driven template set by Barney, Hooky, Stephen and Gillian seethes, simmers and percolates through the whole of Delphic’s Acolyte, but it’s not lazy mimicry. Rather, the trio finds a way to adapt it to their own strengths, from James Cook’s apologetic keening to the trio’s penchant for laying down rambling electro-terrains, lush with densely-crafted textures, ghostly reverb, shy ellipses and staccato exclamations.
Delphic can swerve dangerously close to atmospheric pomposity in spots, but they sense how to deftly maneuver that tricky curve without soaring off the cliff. The title track ‘Acolyte’ is a stunning, nearly nine-minute movement that unfolds like a single, busy day, from drowsy awakening, through chaotic afternoon to crawling-in-bed dÃ©nouement.
There are flourishes of remarkable beauty coursing throughout Acolyte. The soaring, pensive guitar that burrows slyly into “Doubt” midway counters the track’s uneasy arrhythmia and School of Language-reminiscent vowel stutter. The twisty, heart-pounding lullaby of -This Momentary’ flows effortlessly from babbling brook to roaring tsunami and back again.
The marriage of dance and rock can be tricky and the nervy expectations that nip at the heels of any young band squinting in the music press spotlight can be daunting, especially when that band has found itself planted like a Mancunian tree in the top three of BBC’s Sound of 2010. You can’t help but wonder if Delphic might have wished to debut without that added pressure, but the result, the enormously satisfying and gorgeous Acolyte, is a fine start to what will hopefully be a long, ever-evolving career for this trio of synth-rock romantics.