Delta Mainline – Oh! Enlightened (Rehab Sound Recordings)
Out 20th May, 2013
Louder Than War’s Colin McGregor reviews experimental psychedelic 7 piece Delta Mainline’s impressively diverse debut album.
The first full length album by Edinburgh-based Delta Mainline has been a long time coming, but after teasers like the In a World Full of Madness, the Simple Joy of Melody Can Pull You Through EP and a few tracks released on various compilations, the real deal is finally here.
While the individual tracks could easily stand alone, I believe the album should be listened to as a whole because it is such a coherent, well thought out body of work.
After the 44 second first track, “Tus Nua” hints that you may be listening to a dreampop/shoegaze album. “Misinformation” kicks in with fuzzed bass and an attitude that had me thinking of the 50’s and the arrival of the teenager; all leather jackets, hair gel and flick knives.
“Stop This Feeling” lulls you into a false sense of security before it picks up where the previous song left off, more attitude and getting angrier. The one thing that underpins this whole album, even amongst the pain, attitude and anger, is an uplifting sense of hope.
I do not pretend to know the meaning of the lyrics nor will I attempt to analyse them, as Delta Mainline frontman David McLachlan is a singer/songwriter whose voice carries the emotion of every song perfectly.
“The Church Is Up For Sale” takes a turn for the sleazy and David’s voice dips into Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy territory, Hannon being the master of sleaze himself. The mood soon changes into a spiritual, almost gospel feeling song that, again, feels uplifting. The use of the religious imagery is another theme running throughout the album, but the line “The church is up for sale and the priest is out on bail” paints a grittier picture of religion.
“Florentine Regime” takes a chunk of New York and plants it right on the east coast of Scotland. DM do wear their influences on their sleeves at times and this track starts off a lot like The Velvet Underground but they’re a fidgety lot and it never strays into plagiarism or parody because by the time you’ve worked out a particular influence, they’re off onto something else. This song even took me to the bar room boogie of The Faces and that’s not somewhere I thought I’d go with Delta Mainline.
“Dark Energy” starts off with a sinister, menacing intro before crashing in, and the distorted vocals really slap you in the face. This song has a chilling feel to it, and musically puts me in mind of the dynamics and power of Mogwai (maybe not surprising to find out the engineer, Davey McCaulay, has worked with Mogwai in the past).
The final song on Oh! Enlightened, “Self Inflicted Ills”, has an air of reflection about it which I’m an absolute sucker for as an album’s closing track. The subtle horns that drift in and out in between the voice and piano give the track an effortless melancholy, while the song itself seems to suggest that despite all shit we go through, be it political, spiritual, personal or whatever, most of us have an inner strength to deal with it in whatever way we can.
The album Oh! Enlightened will be released in May 2013 through Rehab Sound Recordings (UK) and Halcyon Records (North America). To coincide with this release, Delta Mainline will take to the road, with various launch nights being held in Edinburgh, London, Birmingham, Glasgow and elsewhere throughout the U.K.
All words by Colin McGregor. You can read more of his writing on the site here.