Driving to the beach today and blasting Cat Empire’s eponymous, fabulous debut as the clouds took on that wispy look you know means that they aren’t taking the prospect of attempting to rain seriously at all, Brother Z lamented how there are albums (like 2003′s ‘The Cat Empire’) that become an integral part of your listening history, inexplicably intertwined with real life moments to the point where it becomes difficult to extricate the soundtrack from the experiences. ‘Don’t worry,’ I tried to assure him, feeling suddenly much older than my years, ‘there are always new ones’. Case in point is Delphic’s ‘Acolyte’, the Manchester four-piece’s debut circa 2010 which, from being just another review CD adding to a stack on my desk, became an album intimately connected with my last two years on this planet. In the skittering synths of ‘‘, I deposited my concerns and anxieties. ‘‘ inspired attempts to get out and do something exciting with its tribal dance club vibes. ‘Counterpoint‘, for all the obviousness of its self-help mantra, remains a vital force in the realm of perspective taking.
When an album like ‘Acolyte’ makes such an impact on a period of your life, it becomes near impossible to imagine anything else from that band or artist’s discography ever matching the evocative power of that album. For Brother Z, that means that nothing will ever touch the heights of ‘The Cat Empire’ or, perhaps less capable of explanation, ‘Hard Candy’ for the Counting Crows. For me, when it comes to Delphic, the hauntingly arresting ‘Acolyte’ doesn’t look in danger of being eclipsed any time soon. What’s stranger, though, is when the band’s new song – their first in almost three years – runs so patently against the grain of the existential themes of their debut and really makes me question whether I might be capable of inviting a more multifaceted Delphic appreciation into my life. Having so thoroughly entrenched an association between Delphic and intricate but inevitably austere tracks, ‘Good Life’ throws a spanner in the works, not merely with its emotive contrast to the starkly named ‘Ephemera’, ‘Remain’ or ‘Halcyon’ (all off ‘Acolyte’) but also by virtue of presenting a Delphic so happy you’d think it was a different band.
Vocalist James Cook has always had a way with throwing his voice into his lyrics. All across ‘Acolyte’, the result is undeniable: the strength and rawness in his vocals smash up against the intensity of the album’s lyricism and produce the sort of songs on record that you can’t imagine would be reproduced that much better live. But never has that organic explosiveness really been applied to a really upbeat situation. ‘Good Life’, as the title would suggest, sees Delphic taking an intrinsic ability to tap human emotions and letting the thing overflow with happiness for a sweet, ecstatic 4′. There is still that element of doubt seeping into verses questioning, ‘How does it all end? When do we get there? What does it matter? Why do you still care?’ but it’s rapidly undermined by the plucky ‘we wait’ refrain and the yells and chipmunky vocals (ca. Passion Pit ‘Manners’) that erupt in the chorus, blunting any mortal quandaries. An official London 2012 song pick, ‘Good Life’ is suitably taut and energetic. Vying for second life-effecting Delphic album, that follow-up (due early 2013) might well get a run.
Delphic – Good Life