It's always a good way to grab my attention by name checking Spiritualized as an influence and Edinburgh 7-piece Delta Mainline would find it hard to describe their sound without mentioning them; the task of living up to the name check is altogether a different prospect. Spiritualized are one of my favourite bands. The good news is that Delta Mainline are destined to be included in that list too.
Oh! Enlightened is their debut album, recorded at Chem19 Studios by Davey McAuley (Mogwai) and features 10 tracks with a perfect balance of rock-n-roll chargers and epic slower tracks. The production is top notch and the playing is outstanding, these guys really do know how to make instruments work together, little embellishments of brass, the occasional, but unobtrusive strings and wondrous wall of sound percussion.
Settling down for my first listen (remember the high hopes I have from the aforementioned influence), opener 'Misinformation' goes for the jugular with its incessant driving rhythm, slide guitars and wailing harmonica. Repeated plays are necessary to increase the love for this one, don't let it be the only track you hear.
'Stop This Feeling' keeps up the high tempo, resplendent with the Spaceman's enticing c'mons. Then the early pace subsides, time for a remarkable comedown trilogy, 'Dead Beat Blues' has a sorrowful but uplifting undercurrent and for the first time, you get to hear inflections of Scotland in the sound. There's a section in this tune when funereal New Orleans brass appears, it's a hairs on the back of the neck moment. Bliss.
Another outstanding tune is 'The Church Is Up For Sale' which begins as a Jesus And Mary Chain ballad, all warm fuzzy chords and tambourines before erupting into an epic chorus/ad lib that I'd love to hear played live. A truly joyous moment on an album that astounds with every play.
'Florentine Regime' pulls off a neat two-songs-in-one trick, part one is a piano driven boogie-stomp, part two eases into a tremendously triumphant melodic section. The ultimate (penultimate) Spiritualized head nod comes in the form of 'Dark Energy', a six minute spacemanned-out trilogy of soundscapes. A lengthy proggy intro section passes into the song's main melody before ending in one of those riotous cacophonies where everything in the studio gets a hammering, so favoured by Jason Pierce. It's really well done, but maybe a little too much in the way of acknowledging your influence. But hey, Delta Mainline aren't the first act to replay another band's sound, they won't be the last. As a big fan of Spiritualized, I'd be the first in line to dissect and criticise, but when the playing is of such a high standard and the songs are as well written, I'm converted.
A few of my reviews to date have expressed the hope that we'd hear more from the band under scrutiny, I can say with absolute confidence that we will be hearing more from Delta Mainline in the future. An outstanding debut.