The Delphines are yet another example of that “Detroit Sound” crossing generations and making it’s way east to Milwaukee. They’re a little bit like a female fronted Stooges, with riffs like The Gories, and even a little bit Motown thrown in for good measure. Their influences range from ’60s garage right up to ’90s grunge. They sound like everything and nothing at all; And they do an amazing job of reinterpreting the past into something that is truly their own.
Everything they do is retro. From the ’70s throwback look of their album art to their lo-fi garage sound, they’re old souls through and through. They’ve cut their teeth with a handful of incredible singles and EP’s but with the release of their first long player, Hush, they’re sounding better than ever.
The album opens with the song “Screen Door” and one of the band’s trademark sounds, a pounding floor tom and the harsh crack of a snare drum. This barebones approach to percussion may seem a bit scarce at first but drummer Jeremy Ault’s style gives the band a unique driving garage sound that never gets muddied up by loud cymbal crashes (because he doesn’t use any).
“Eat You Alive” has quickly become a favorite of mine not only in regards to this album but in the entire Delphines catalog. The fast-driving drums are still there but this one is more of a rocker. With only one short verse that’s repeated throughout the song you can’t help but fall in love with singer Jami Eaton’s stuttering vocals on the opening line “It takes a certain kind of reliable man”. Harrison Colby’s guitar riffs are just as catchy too.
The album’s title track keeps the energy up and enters with a shimmering cascade of chimes panning from ear-to-ear (it’s probably the highest pitched sound on the album). The fast-driving drums are still there and the lyrical content once again revolves around the popular topic of bittersweet love. The song’s chorus “I only want you after midnight / after four or five, that’s when this feels right” is framed in a wall of guitar noise that almost sounds more like Sonic Youth than garage rock. The song builds to a great climax and then comes back down to a whispering guitar melody and back into a wall of sound until one last chorus brings it all to an end.
The fourth track, “Careless”, is technically not a new one for the band. You may recall our Psychedelic Sunday post about the single from last year. The song is back in a polished re-recorded form and rightfully so. It fits wonderfully within the confines of the album and feels a slight bit toned down from the single version but it still hits hard.
Moving onto the B-Side of the album (flip your cassette tapes now) is the band’s latest single “Feral”. It’s the right mix of loud, fast, and catchy that The Delphines have proven they do so well at this point. It’s a simple tune but you’ll want to hear it over and over again.
“Vice” is another big standout for me; I can’t stop listening to it. It manages to sound like a pop hit and a psych rock jam all at once.
Onward into the B-side is the 2 minute pop wonder “Little Viking”. Some simple yet beautiful keys make an appearance on this track and provide a great accent to the guitar parts. The verses sound like something The Supremes would sing if you stripped away some of that reverb and distortion on the guitars. The band’s pop sensibilities are certainly not lost in all of those loud riffs.
The longest track on the album, “Kentucky”, clocks in at just over 4 min. That’s nearly twice as long as every other song on the album. The extra time is not wasted by any means. The song is a nice companion piece to the beginning of the album, with a tone that’s similar to “Hush” but with new subject matter.
We’ve now reached the end of the this 10-track album and it ends on a bang. They pulled out all of the stops for the album’s closer “Notches”. It begins innocently enough with a child counting to 4 but jumps right into an all out garage punk hit. I really love this side of the band. They’re certainly capable of writing thought provoking lyrics and compositions but it’s often these quick bursts of punk energy that really shine. The anthemic refrain that fills the second half of the song is a brilliant end to this incredible album.
“The space between your eight hundred thread count sheets” is a perfectly sarcastic line to end an album that deals primarily in the bittersweet nature of relationships.
All in all, The Delphines have yet to disappoint me. They’ve built upon all of their previous releases and made an album that manages to sound polished yet raw all at once. Maybe it was just a matter of taking the lo-fi sound up a notch to medium-fi, but this Milwaukee 4-piece has definitely grown as a band and this album is proof of that.
Check out the rest of Hush over on bandcamp and hurry up and buy a Limited Edition cassette for only $8 (plus shipping). It’s well worth it.