Most dance-rock hybrids mutate into hideous beasts: dull, unimaginative or plain embarrassing creations that should, by rights, be locked in one’s attic and kept away from human eyes (and ears).
It’s curious, then, that Delphic didn’t scoop more plaudits for bucking the trend with their 2010 debut Acolyte: hyped to the heavens when still in their infancy, and yet oddly overlooked when they came good with the spoils.
For all the musical heritage of their Manchester hometown, comparisons to the past seemed to hinder rather than help. Even though their sound paid debt toThe Chemical Brothers and Orbital, among others, the “knock-off New Order” catcall never seemed far away.
Delphic don’t sound like New Order any more, though – and that’s not necessarily a good thing. Instead, too often on second album Collections they seem a facsimile of disparate bands, genres and style.
Throughout, there’s a nagging suspicion that the past three years have been spent assembling a sonic patchwork of ill-fitting hand-me-downs, rather than weaving their own, better-suited garments.
So, while Of the Young is a fine, strutting stomp with its blood and thunder percussion and a skyscraper-sized chorus, first single Baiya is an unsuccessful marriage of schlocky RnB and sub-Friendly Fires dance-pop.
There’s something unsettling, too, about its would-be-sexy refrain of “Feel you breathing down my neck/ Tenderness is the only weapon left.”
The bombastic throb of The Sun Also Rises comes off as a limp halfway point between MGMT and Passion Pit, while Atlas is a six-minute slumber that only jolts into life courtesy of its flirtation with anaemic dubstep breakdowns.
Freedom Found, meanwhile, fancies itself as a sultry slow-jam but is more suited to post-passion awkwardness than steamy encounters.
Ben Allen and Tim Goldsworthy’s production is spick and span throughout. They add satisfying sheen to the likes of Don’t Let the Dreamers Take You Away, and the glitchy voicemail samples of Tears Before Bedtime show, if nothing else, a stab at innovation.
But on the whole, Collections is a misfire and proof that, sometimes, re-inventing the wheel doesn’t always reap rewards – especially if you were already journeying more gracefully from A-to-B than most of your contemporaries.