Review of Delphic's album Acolyte released through Polydor.
Having spent the best part of 2009 establishing themselves as one of the brightest, most forward-thinking outfits to emerge from their home city in years, Mancunian quartet Delphic have found themselves thrust to the summit of 2010's hype list. Whilst always inevitable, not to mention the lazy comparisons that have pre-empted such lofty predictions, their sound is as far removed from the usual scene orientated guff that accompanies most New Year forecasts.
As guitarist Matt Cocksedge recently commented, 'If we were from Sheffield people would be calling us The Human League so I guess the fact we live in Manchester makes the New Order statements unavoidable'; quite. While there is a slight element of the synth-dominated leftfield pop that made 'Technique' one of the most distinguished albums of the 1980s in Delphic's make-up, to dismiss them as copycats would be doing them a major disservice, not to mention suggesting one hasn't actually listened to 'Acolyte' in the first place. Sure, there is no doubt they've traced a healthy lineage through electronic music's back pages up to the point of integrating both rave and Studio One's indigenous dub techniques into their simplistic melodies. Undoubtedly, much of that fusion can be laid at the door of esteemed producer Ewan Pearson, a man whose deft touch has worked wonders with the likes of Ladytron, The Rapture and Depeche Mode over the past decade.
There's also the band's own previous history to take into account. Both Cocksedge and keyboard player Rich Boardman served time in post-Coldplay also-rans Snowfight In The City Centre and while their former suitors failed to make too much headway beyond familiar northern quarter territories, the likes of 'Red Lights' and 'Acolyte''s title track suggest they spent their time well honing and crafting tuneful excursions out of bland Radio 2 standards. The former's errant poignancy takes on a similar vein to fellow Mancs The Longcut, even down to its dual snap-drum rhythm while the latter's quasi-instrumental overture in three parts sits out of kilter yet comfortably snug among its more poppier bed fellows.
That's not to say that all of 'Acolyte' lives up to expectations. At times it doesn't, mostly down to Delphic's occasional capaciousness to overdo it somewhat when less would actually compensate for more. Take 'Submission' for example or the closing 'Remain', which between them account for an overly long twelve minutes combined. In both cases their welcome is outstayed by pointless repetitive overdubs when a concise effort to fit into the three-minute pop song doctrine would have served the purpose just fine.
However, when Delphic do strike gold, such as on former single 'This Momentary' and future 45 in waiting 'Halcyon' there's little deliberation that they engender a special chemistry, and given time to develop without the unnecessary levels of hyperbole thrust in their direction, could yet become a dauntingly special prospect in the future. For now though, let's not get too carried away.