10.01.2010, Words by Charlie Jones


Okay, first thing’s first, this is definitely a well-crafted album and very easy to listen to, granted. We would not have tipped these guys for big things last summer if we did not expect this to be the case. Produced by dance floor wizard Ewan Pearson, the album has a tight, multifaceted sound and the songs are thoughtful accounts of adolescent hope and ambition. But I wouldn’t go as far as admitting that this is life-changing pop music. What is clear on this album is that a number of influences (mainly the indie-dance crossover bands of the mid-noughties) have been distilled down into emotive synth-ridden indie ballads. Sure, it’s got the twinkling wonderment of Tom Vek (even the bass lines), the starry-eyed soundscapes of Bloc Party, the crooning of Friendly Fires along with the harmonies of The Klaxons, which is all very nice, but I can’t escape the fact that all this adds up to (dare I say it) something almost meta – a sort of larger-than-life tribute to a half-decade of polished dance floor-friendly indie music.

Rather than aping New Order, Delphic ape the very bands that aped New Order before them. Trace back down the evolutionary ladder of indie-dance and you will hear raw energy and immediacy within the rumbling of Belfast (a track that ‘Acolyte’ echoes throughout), a sense of abandonment within Ceremony and the dystopia of Transmission. And during the mid-noughties we had the tightness of So Here We Are and the slick restraint of Paris – pop music written with soul by dancers, a homage to bands like New Order but sanitised, almost purified. But surely during a regurgitation process of such some of the essense that spawned these originals is inevitably lost. And ‘Acolyte’ confirms this supposition. If you photocopy a photocopy inevitably the colour will fade and the intensity of the original will be reduced. It is not that the album sounds bad. The devil is in my response to it. My ears do not hear anything that new on this album, so therefore my mind is not excited by it. It doesn’t stir my emotions, not in the same way that something truly new to my senses would – like, say, the first time I heard Like Eating Glass and more so before that Blue Monday.

Following on from a year of scuzzy, lo-fi music aching with nostalgia is this what we have to look forward to, music that has jumped on the back of its immediate predecessors? Yet, ironically (and unfortunately), such a polished, sanitised take on music that was once wild is a very appropriate way to kick start this new decade. The clouds have parted and as the new dawn emerges it is still refusing to quit playing safe and release its grip on what came before it. This album sounds good, sure, at times great. It grows on every listen and is ludicrously catchy, but it is certainly not what I would call a battle cry. Besides, dance music with indie soul ain’t THAT spesh now, is it?

‘Acolyte’ is out now on Polydor

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