By the second half of 2009, Delphic had grown from an underground electro spark into a looming storm of hype, one ready to strike the indie world with their soaring, glitchy pop at any moment.
Fast-forward to present-day and finally, at the commencement of 2010, we're presented with their début record: Acolyte. Is it everything they've promised? Does it live it up to the colossal amount of hype pressed firmly upon the members' shoulders? More importantly, is it the coveted "next big thing"?
Of course it isn't, but we could've told you that from the start. We chose to leave it until the third paragraph so as to build a little suspense.
Case in point; The Big Pink, Passion Pit and The Temper Trap. Three bands that all huddle relatively close together in terms of genre and each with a hugely anticipated 2009 début which failed to live up to the world's expectations. It's not even the bands fault anymore but instead, the public and the press who seem destined to kill up-and-coming bands before they're even able to hit the studio. We expect so much from the newcomers that even if the music itself isn't half-bad, it still isn't good enough. It's even got to the point where you can almost guess which bands will be forced to rush their début out for the benefit of whatever 'financial quarter' the label are worrying about. Unfortunately for Delphic, Acolyte is a shining example of everything we've just said.
They're the type of band that could easily put together a fantastic E.P of music and we're willing to bet our left leg that any DJ night they helm would be far superior to anything Pendulum or MC-whoeverthehell could put together. As for a near hour-long body of work though, we're simply not convinced they're able to handle themselves, yet.
"Clarion Call" kicks things off with a simple, steadily building melody. In comes the wavering vocals and an anticipated synth addition which eventually shifts into an impressive but hollow break. "A call to all, a call to arms, a call to everything you wanted" shouts vocalist James Cook with uncertain passion. It's not a flawless start but admittedly, it doesn't frustrate as much as successive track and newest single "Doubt" does.
It's a cheesy, generic slab of nothingness that's as obvious as a pop single can be, filled to the teeth with silly vocal effects, less-than-inspired hooks, a repetitive, lazy chorus and a tinny, stuttering typewriter twinge that becomes more and more infuriating on every consecutive listen. It's somewhat akin to witnessing a half-decent song through a pair of broken speakers.
Moving on from that you've got the squeaky clean "Counterpoint" that forms nothing more than a headache and a vague shrug, the completely danceable "Halcyon" that will probably spin any trance-head into a hyper-daze but leaves no lasting impression once it fades into the distance and of course the tired, struggling "This Momentary" that has plenty of style but not a single ounce of genuine, bona-fide substance.
What you're left with then, is four or five genuinely respectable attempts at refreshing electronic music that are all mired by the surrounding, characterless music. The striking mid-album title-track Acolyte sits at nearly nine minutes in length and is devoid of a single lyric. It's glaringly superior to the rest of the music, burning slowly and steadily into a huge, twinkling beast reminiscent of an early Rokysopp attempt. It outstays its welcome eventually but it shows ten times the promise that any other contribution is able to muster. Then comes the crushing disappointment after it ends when we're reminded that in fact, it was really just a rare gem amongst a bunch of shiny stones.
It's a simple case of too much sheen versus not enough creativity. Force a band to complete their music to a deadline and further that by overproducing their material anyway and what you have is a half decent band releasing a soulless introductory CD.
Still, that's music marketing for you.