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Album Review: Delphic ‘Acolyte’

Delphic, one of the buzz bands of 2009, have produced an album which, more than living up to the hype, is the first great album of 2010.

Hailing from the UK, Delphic had released a series of singles in 2009, such as Counterpoint and This Momentary, both of which immediately caught my attention and proved that the band was destined for big things. I named their debut album ‘Acolyte’ as my 10th most anticipated release of 2010, and it hasn’t disappointed.

Due for release this Monday, Acolyte is a stellar debut album.

The band has been hailed as part of a new wave of ‘dance-rock’, and indeed throughout the album elements of dance and rock are blended seamlessly to create a sound that, although certainly not unique, is adventurous enough whilst still sounding familiar. Both previously mentioned singles, This Momentary and Counterpoint are included in the album, however they take on somewhat of a new being when surrounded by the rest of ‘Acolyte’ rather than when heard in isolation as singles.

‘Acolyte’ is a complete album. There aren’t any real standout single tracks, but rather each song draws on the ones that came before to establish itself, and it is perfectly understandable that every track here could be someone’s favourite on the album. In this way the album is reminiscent of the Flaming Lips’ ‘Embryonic’, however it is certainly not as experimental.

Opener Clarion Call immediately sets the tone for the rest of the album, as the band cries out a “Call to arms”. At just under three minutes, however, it is the second-shortest song on the album, which is dominated by songs longer than six minutes, and includes one song, Acolyte, which is nearly nine minutes long. I’m in two minds as to how I feel about this. Some songs, such as the closer Remain, which clocks in at well over six minutes, feel as if they could easily be condensed into a more listener-friendly four minutes. However others such as the aforementioned Counterpoint, which also lasts for over six minutes, do not feel repetitive at all, but rather use their allocated time to build up gradually into a majestic climax.

My favourite song on the album, Halcyon, is a magnificent track, as Delphic sing “Give me something I can believe in” in a very Bravery-esque way. Above all else, however, Halcyon is an unmistakably cool track, and ‘Acolyte’ is indeed a slick and polished debut, from the cover-art, which I absolutely love, to the sound of the band, which has been produced with astounding attention to detail.

While Delphic are undeniably a forward-looking band, there is nothing that adventurous about ‘Acolyte’. And this is understandable: with all the buzz surrounding Delphic last year, they would have been crazy to try to do anything more than reproduce the style evident in their singles into a full album. The strength of ‘Acolyte’ lies in its immediate familiarity, even as Delphic are pounding out six minute hybrid dance and rock songs.

The album has very few low points, however one of these must be Ephemera, the penultimate track. It is mostly an instrumental, atmospheric number, but yet still lasts for nearly two minutes, and takes a good minutes to build into any discernible sound. I have no problem with atmospheric instrumental numbers, and credit to Delphic for the attempt, however its placement as the second last song on the album is an odd one, and serves to detract from the gradual buildup of energy leading up to the climax of Counterpoint. Indeed it is almost as if the last two songs are afterthoughts, or at least some kind of protracted epilogue, to the epic that is Counterpoint, to which it feels the entire album has been leading into.

However ‘Acolyte’ is a wonderful album, balancing perfectly familiarity with forward-thinking; hype with musical integrity; dance with rock. It blends seamlessly so many elements, and works as a whole so beautifully, that it does justice to what everyone, including myself, said about Delphic last year.

More than this, however, ‘Acolyte’ can stand isolated from all the buzz about the band as a truly great debut album in its own right.

Album Rated: 8/10

Listen To: The entire album. Halcyon, Counterpoint, This Momentary.

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