True Panther, Spain
by Andrew Casillas
First things first: What do we make of Delorean? Are they the sunnier form of the “chillwave/glo-fi/tapecore” movement? Are they basically a Scandinavian blisscore techno act in Xavi kits? Are they really just a rock band with house accents? In reality, they’re obviously a mix of all three propositions. They share the same passion for effects processing and shoegaze affinity as your Washed Outs and Neon Indians, the same sunny exterior and dreamlike harmonies of the Tough Alliance and Air France (who is perhaps their easiest single comparison), and it certainly wouldn’t be a stretch to accuse these guys of owning a Booka Shade 12” or two. What sets this up-and-coming Spanish band apart is how they choose to blend all of these elements together: as equals, something that’s readily noticeable upon first listen to Subiza.
Take the opener, “Stay Close,” for example. Lyrically, this is a song about long-distance romance transitioning into melancholy, but musically (and thematically), the vocals, samples, and effects are weaved to the point where the melody becomes no more prevalent than any other instrument, as if you were listening in to someone’s fantasy. The beat thumps, but doesn’t rock the house, and the whole thing threatens to burst into a million colors all over your ceiling. It’s a bit frantic actually, which seems to distinguish it from chillwave tropes, but not so much that you would be a fool to want to play this on a sunny, cloudless day. It’s also the best song on the album.
This is followed by “Real Love,” which retains a bit of the programming virtuosity of the above-mentioned Tough Alliance, but with a light shoegaze haze. Indeed, there’s a quiet bit about halfway through the track, where the soundscapes slowly descend into a blur before the keyboard effects erupt all over again. Aside from sounding really, really cool, it shows a density and cohesiveness that shows the band’s growth from Ayrton Senna.
From this point, the album gets less poppy, but no less interesting. “Endless Sun” showcases the band’s 90’s house influences, and the Burial-like “vocals” on “Grow” provide a neat contrast with the track’s overall sunny exterior. The 1-2 punch of “Simple Graces” and “Infinite Deserts” may be the album’s high point. Changing the tone of the album, these cuts are less focused on the beach, and more towards reality. Indeed, the Avey Tare-ness of the vocals make “Simple Graces” sparkle; everything about the song sounds like a diversion, right down to the drumbeat at the very end. “Infinite Desert” begins with the seemingly innocuous chant of “Would you like to start a riot?” before exploding into slices of color—the fact that Delorean does this so easily is what stands out most.
This isn’t exactly a perfect album: there are moments when the lyrics are trying to sound poignant, but end up falling flat; not all of the “hooks” are strong, etc. Some may also say that this suffers from not having a song as immediate or memorable as “Seasun,” one that just begs placement on your end of year singles ballot, but this plays much better as an album as their previous EP would have led someone to anticipate. Delorean also does a find job refining and showcasing their strengths: their harmonies, sense of musical knowledge, and dynamism. 2010 is already shaping up to be a remarkable year for electronic music, and while Subiza may not really be in the running for “techno album of the year,” it’s still pretty damn good.