The Delays

Faded Seaside Glamour

I cannot begin to count the ways I hated this album at first listen. An esteemed colleague pulled me aside during a happy hour or a drunken visit to the nearby record store a few blocks from the selfsame happy hour. It doesn’t really matter other than to suggest that I was resistant to his statement that “You need to hear this Delays album, it sounds like Stevie Nicks except it’s a dude singing.” Bryan, I apologize if I muddled the mixture as usual. However, I distinctly remember my defiance to the idea of a fellow putting on the guise of the ultimate gypsy, Stevie Nicks.

I have been indoctrinated to the gypsy supremacy of Stevie Nicks by more than a few ex-girlfirends. However, those same ex-girlfriends also attempted to convince me that Annie Lennox’s solo albums were masterpieces. (Editors note: I only believe them to be enjoyable albums in the company of a lovely woman.) When they brought up Sarah McLachlan as a feminine icon, I felt dirty, but said no. Tori Amos was a coin-toss, but I picked heads and I find the coin landing on tails much too often. I am getting carried away with myself, let’s get to The Delays, whom I love in a conditional way.

Lead singer Greg Gilbert has perfected the throaty magic of Ms. Nicks and wields it effectively and does sound like a fellow who can imitate Stevie Nicks after a whiskey and a few cigs. There is no mockery in this statement. I love this about his vocal acrobatics. I don’t even wince when the slow numbers happen and I think I am listening to The Wild Heart on my headphones.

Honestly, Isome of this is sheer mimicry while other moments really knock my socks off. The opener, “Wanderlust” opens with some well-placed steel drum as Gilbert swoons over every note of lyrics like “Can You hear that knocking in your soul/No, you don’t listen.” It is the theatrical qualities of his voice that make such lines work, just like a chorus of “Stand Back, Stand Back” worked. My parallels are drawn too closely since this band also delves into folk and Brit-pop. The other albums blow. This one offers an intriguing glimpse of what might have been.

The Moles – Instinct

June 10, 2008

The Moles


For better or worse, Richard Davies’ orchestral obsessions took hold on the Moles and the result is Instinct. Now, I really love this mini-lp and his eventual shedding of his grubbier past for peacock feathers and strings with Cardinal, but it was kind of shocking and abrupt. Untune the Sky, his earliest efforts posted on the blog a few days ago, saw Davies’ mastery of a fuzzy, sort of off-kilter psychedelic indie pop song. Instinct finds Davies unhappy with past efforts and he has shaken the Moles to the core.

Instead of English Nuggets, indie-pop and the Bats, Chills and Verlaines, we find Van Dyke Parks and Nilsson as new bedmates. To be honest, this comparison isn’t totally honest because I still haven’t heard a parallel to some of the sounds found here. I remember some godawful term called “ork-pop” used to describe Cardinal, but i cannot protest too much since I repeatedly cited the term “post-rock” when I worked for Alternative Press. Neither are appropriate. There is something inherently prog about all of these tracks, but the influence of Untune the Sky grounds it before it gets too floofy.

I sound conflicted, but I really do love this album. Davies’ remains a wordsmith in the vein of the Davies’ brothers and and truly has a way with words. He builds worlds within songs and if you but into his musical worldview, it is a rich experience. I like Untune the Sky better, but this middle ground is very enlightening in the context of what comes after. What comes after? Well, I will post the rest throughout the week.