Having already been tipped for success by several end-of-year industry polls, big things are almost a given for Manchester’s Delphic.
When also considering the excellence of their two previous singles (Counterpoint and This Monetary) and their auspicious live reputation, Acolyte would have been a disappointment if it wasn’t, at the very least, a solid indie-dance album.
The quality of Delphic’s debut, then, is not a surprise. What is unusual is the clearly audible focus and intent. With the help of talented producer Ewan Pearson they’ve realised their own vision with clarity and force.
As a centrepiece, the title-track takes some beating. A glacial intro, as sad as a lover packing to leave for good, is followed by bruising Berlin techno, which the boys no doubt checked out while recording in the German capital. The song also has a driving trance feel, seemingly stolen from Sander Kleinenberg’s 2000 classic, My Lexicon.
Of the two early singles, inaugural release Counterpoint is two parts The Beloved’s Sweet Harmony to one part Bloc Party’s So Here We Are. A tender, if non-specific, vocal from James Cook suggests a broken relationship; but he’s on the way to pragmatic acceptance rather than whining.
This Momentary is even better and sees Matt Cocksedge contribute skeletal guitar motifs reminiscent of The xx and Cook vocally evoke Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor. There are lush harmonies and Underworld-style synth and beat combos, too. Fans of Melbourne’s Cut Copy will be appreciative.
New Order are the Mancunian rave-rock elephant in the room and Delphic have obviously studied copies of Technique and Brotherhood in detail. But when third single Doubt is as affecting as a post-Klaxons Regret, that’s no bad thing.
On an album of great consistency, Red Lights is another winner. An iridescent, dilated-pupil anthem-in-waiting, it should attract a raft of remixers from across the dance music spectrum.
There was some pressure on Delphic to deliver and they have. From a palette of familiar reference points, they’ve created a fresh, vital sound that could prove to be the basis of an impressive career. Barney and Hooky will exchange knowing glances when they hear it, but Acolyte might just be the first great album of 2010. --Lou Thomas
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