Ok Their Point Is Made, But Are The Songs Good?
Delta Spirit are one of the better up and coming Americana bands out there, with a furious punk attitude and grand storytelling that made them a band you should know. The interesting thing is that they really have never sounded Americana. Delta Spirit is Americana in the same way My Morning Jacket is – they have louder guitars, more push in their sound, and a taste for more U2-like sonics than simple acoustic styles than say the Avett Brothers. With each new record the band continued to evolve into their own sound and moving away from the Americana genre. So with all this in mind, the fact that their new self-titled album sounds nothing like Americana music shouldn’t be surprising. Unfortunately, the album comes across as a bland attempt to completely break free from the Americana sound for what they consider their “true” sound, and the results are mixed.
The really question concerning Delta Spirit is whether the songs here are indie-rock songs from an alt-country band, or if this is an alt-country record disguised as a rock album. Judging by the songs off this record, I would choose the former. “Tear It Up” sounds like a Vampire Weekend song but with Matthew Vasquez’s distinct vocals. “Home” at first sounds like the beginning of a Kraftwerk song, and like a Kraftwerk song it doesn’t really go anywhere. When you first hear “Money Saves”, you’ll be confused as to why you’re listening to The Smiths until Vasquez’s vocals come in, and album closer “Yamaha” sounds like a Modest Mouse song in their The Moon & Antarctica era. None of these songs can be described as Americana, and this wouldn’t be a problem if only the songs were more memorable. Nothing sonically on Delta Spirit stands out, and the lyrics, always a strong point of Delta Spirit, get lost within the bland music.
I’m really tempted to make a U2 comparison, specifically to their fantastic album Achtung Baby. Delta Spirit is colorful and is a sonic depature from the band’s first albums (both album covers kinda look the same too). But while U2 was trying to evolve their sound, it sounds like Delta Spirit is trying to force upon their fans what their “true sound” is. The irony in my U2 comparison is that they end up sounding like U2 in the same way that the Kings of Leon do, and with the same bland result that make Delta Spirit seem generic. The band is still every tight and energetic and Vasquez’s vocals are still great, but his storytelling isn’t coming across as well as their earlier albums.
I guess I’m a little bitter with the results of this album. Delta Spirit is well produced, lyrically great, full of well-written songs, and I have to give credit to them for staying true to what they want to do. My problem with this album is that I loved the rawness of their earlier songs, and nothing was better than when the band was stripped down to acoustic guitars (the acoustic version of “Devil Knows You’re Dead” is a triumph). Delta Spirit is well written and produced, and that’s exactly why I don’t like it. They had a special thing going, but now they are in danger of becoming just another band.
Overall First Impression: In the same way that Kings of Leon tried to change styles, Delta Spirit tries to change things up with mixed results that implies that Delta Spirit should stick to what they do best.
Highlights: “Empty House”, “Tear It Up”, “California”
Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber