Being branded as ‘the next big thing’ can often mark the beginning of the end for a group. In 2010, Mancunian indietronic rockers Delphic received critical acclaim for their debut Acolyte. Heralded as ‘a revolution to the genre’; three years later, sees their follow up Collections make a somewhat different impression. Explaining their approach, they said “we’ve tried to pull in influence from everywhere, pulling in as many sources as we could.” Unfortunately for Delphic, the inconsistency of the album ultimately detracts; switching from radio friendly pop to hip-hop beats and back to a ballad simply doesn’t work; it’s more convoluted than a genuine collection.
Although there elements of a great electro-indie-pop album here, they seem to want to inhabit somewhere a little more bohemian, to its detriment. The record opens ambitiously with ‘Of the Young’ a track which begins the trend of searching for the largest sound possible for 40 minutes. Lead single ‘Baiya’ follows and is probably the most similar to their earlier work, a funk infused piece that punches home a decent performance but begs to question whether vocalist James Cook can compete with such sonic grandeur.
‘Atlas’ is possibly the triumph of the record and one of few moments that has any real replay value. With striking guitar work, a well written chorus and just the right amount of production trickery, it’s offset quite impressively with the hauntingly, understated, ‘Tears Before Bedtime’; a piano led number featuring a series of voicemails from a distant female voice. Yet elsewhere it all falls flat. Merely dabbling in dubstep, rap and beat-boxing rather than immersing themselves in the genres leave tracks like ‘Don’t Let The Dreamers Take You Away’ and ‘Exotic’ sounding more half-arsed than pioneering. ‘Freedom Found’ belongs on a synth-pop demo from the 80’s as a slow progression and shallow percussion conjure images of keytars, matching outfits and silly hairstyles.
After listening through two or three times the album moves from tolerable listening to an uncomfortable experience. The effort and overblown arrangements serve no pleasurable purpose; in fact it made me unusually anxious. It seems that Delphic over reached with Collections. The difference between Acolyte is vast and while a step away is healthy, it was in the wrong direction; rather than subtle ellipses and building atmosphere, we are offered over produced radio pop. After three years of writing, more was expected.