The Delfields | Ogres (s/r)

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delfields.jpgBefore you even begin to consider looking into the Delfields, you must ask yourself one very important question: How do you feel about the Shins?

 

 

Before you even begin to consider looking into the Delfields, you must ask yourself one very important question: How do you feel about the Shins? If the answer is negative, allow me to save you some time and energy, and tell you to steer clear of the Delfields. However, if you do consider yourself a fan (as, in the interest of full disclosure, I do), then you are likely to find Ogres a worthwhile addition to your aural collection.

Now, you may ask yourself, why such a strong stance regarding one's opinion of the Shins? But, from my first listen to the opening track, "Slippery Slope," the Delfields' debut sounded so much like the Shins that I felt an overwhelming urge to do some research and ascertain whether this album was an elaborately disguised James Mercer side project. This eventually led to a bit of a thought experiment: I created a playlist consisting of the Delfields' Ogres and the Shins' Chutes Too Narrow (their album with which I am least familiar) and played it on shuffle. My goal was determine whether, within the first ten seconds or so, I could distinguish which band had performed each track. (To be honest, this probably lost a great deal of accuracy due to my lack of sobriety, but sometimes one must multitask.) Out of fifteen tracks sampled in this manner, I was able to guess correctly on only seven (and some of those were probably luck). The Delfields share the same melodic vocals, the same deceptively simple guitar riffs, and the same complex layers in their rhythm sections. Even singer and principal songwriter Joseph Fekete's lyrics are reminiscent of Mercer's, and in most cases just as touching and poignant.

Now, if the lengthy comparison above seems disparaging, let us correct that forthwith. These New Jersey natives (not an area known for its great contributions to indie-pop) are both technically accomplished musicians, and have crafted an entire album of the sort of infectious pop songs that linger in your mind and demand repeated listening. The Delfields seem to effortlessly blend psychedelic rock, 60's surf rock, and modern pop into one seamless package, and Fekete uses his lyrics to paint an engaging and bittersweet picture of relationships and what comes after. This all comes together best in "Francine" and the title track "Ogres," two songs where you will find a glimmer of divergence, a slight evolution of the band's sound away from their obvious influences. From a production value standpoint, Ogres' quality is especially impressive due to the lack of backing from a record label. The largest misstep in this collection is the closing track, "Highlands," where the Delfields take an ill-advised shift to a slower, more dour pace as compared to the relatively sunny music which preceded. Where the upbeat nature previously offset the sometimes barbed lyrics, this song comes across as sullen.

With that said, Ogres is definitely an album worthy of a listen. The Delfields have created an entertaining debut and, hopefully, will find themselves in possession of label backing in the near future. I know that personally I will be looking forward to watching this band progress and evolve stylistically. B+ | Brian M Thies

 

RIYL: The Shins, Fleet Foxes

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