Back in early 2010, dance-pop was starting to be redefined. It was perhaps the best time if you maybe wanted to fuse dance and rock, something that has always been notoriously tricky. Delphic took up the mantle. Capturing commercialised vibes, augmenting them a little and introducing a load of electronic instrumentation, their début album Acolyte was the sound of a dystopian underground, but it was a vibrant and fresh triumph. Returning almost exactly three years later, the same cannot be said of Collections.
Lead single ‘Baiya’ is probably the most reminiscent of ‘Good Life’ which was an incredibly energetic, polished and generally fun track especially commissioned for the Olympics. Someone should have told them to keep making those sort of tracks. Whilst ‘Baiya’ is probably the best link to Acolyte in terms of energy, the lads from Manchester have been having more fun than is probably healthy with a drum machine, something which continues throughout the album.
After only ten minutes, its quick to realise that Collections has practically no coherence which, at times, seems almost amateur. As you just about get familiar with the direction of one of the tracks, the sounds lurch violently in another direction which is audibly disorientating. The only consistency is the inconsistency with the band rather bizarrely attempting to layer new styles on already busy songs as if to say ‘Look at how innovative we are!’. Maybe they wanted to shake off the New Order comparisons or had a genuine desire to change.
It really is tricky to explain what is happening across the album. ‘Freedom Found’ is a mix of light R&B and Australian electro-pop. ‘Atlas’ starts with soul and classic rock and ends six minutes later having paid homage to almost all musical styles of the past generation. ‘The Sun Also Rises’ has more of a rumbling pop vibe to it. Whilst things do improve in the middle segment of the album and you can perhaps trace the faintest thread which brings things together, this is a whirlwind tour, lost in time and is not a comfortable experience for the listener.
Sadly Delphic have lost the vibrancy and cohesiveness which made previous tracks such as ‘Counterpoint’ and ‘This Momentary’ so exciting. Collections has too many weak tracks which don’t last long in the memory. There are certainly glimpses of promise and the band of course have talent but it hasn’t been channelled. The album leaves you with far too many questions; Why is there a rap on ‘Exotic’? Is that a voice mail in ‘Tears Before Bedtime’? Why does ‘Atlas’ have a dubstep breakdown?
These are questions you never thought you would be asking of Delphic as they pillage from contemporaries and struggle to string it all together; it remains simply, a collection for show.