Time To Shine – Delays

Recent Delays shows at the Water Rats in North London sold out in hours, and keen to see the band, we had to claim to be journalists in order to get a ticket. Whilst we were at it, we holed up in a fairy lit bunker with Aaron Gilbert and Colin Cox to discuss album number four ‘Star Tiger, Star Ariel.’

Francesca Baker

Waves of nostalgia sweep over the record, and Aaron feels that the port town that is home has been particularly influential. ‘We’ve gone, not full circle, but there’s definitely a sense of trying to figure out how Southampton influences our music.’ Despite this, it was in the secluded farmland of Monmouth where recording took place, ‘very much where you can isolate yourself, a place where you can escape.’

First single ‘Unsung’ is the track most likely to gain recognition outside of the core fan base (and Mexico, where Delays have an almost Beatles-esque following, which they hope to take with them as they tour Japan, Chile etc, ‘like bird flu’), as a stirring journey of arresting melodies, guitar riffs lacerating the soul and Greg’s falsetto voice soothing in an instant.

Listening to ‘Star Tiger Star Ariel’ it struck me that what I have always said is ‘happy’ about Delays music is actually adrenalin. Aaron questions whether happy is a word that should apply. ‘I’ve can understood how people call our music happy, per se, but I’ve never got that.. There’s some really melancholy lyrics if you listen. There’s always an undercurrent. Our gigs are quite euphoric, we’ve had some great shows.’

‘Hold Fire’ opens with the familiar ooh ahh and the simple piano scales over laced with the vocals that first wowed me from Faded Seaside Glamour pierce the heart until I fear the arrow must be visible. ‘It’s great that it causes an emotion though’, says Colin. ‘That’s a wonderful thing. But it’s funny when people apply labels. I mean, one of the singles off the last album, which we didn’t want as a single, but the record company did, is one of the happiest tunes you could ever hear (Hooray from Everything’s The Rush, but is actually about OCD (Greg suffers). That’s not happy.’

The thrilling and direct ‘Lakes Can Be Lethal’ is a tumbling density of emotion, the kind which years in the music industry have thankfully not knocked out of the band, despite an element of disillusionment. ‘Much of the music business is a crap chute’, says Aaron. ‘It’s so cold, the way these people speak about music, the inception of writing a song…they’re so far removed from that. How can you put a price and try to understand what something means to someone, when they don’t even know themselves.’

However, they know they cannot be too hypocritical. ‘It’s always a slightly grotesque thing to make a business out of something creative, but the thing is, once you’ve signed the record deal you’re in the business, you have voluntarily made yourself part of it. You have to take all of that as it comes. You can choose to make music in your garage, but you have chosen to be part of a business and industry.

Whilst it is high time they got the recognition so well deserved, Star Tiger is not a radical enough departure from the first trilogy to suggest a marked change in how it will be received. Colin puts this down to the simple fact of a lack of radio play. ‘Politics’, he spits ‘We don’t live in London, our face doesn’t fit, and we don’t hang with the right people. We’re as indie as can be.’

The diversity of styles that peppers Star Tiger demonstrates how the band draw from themselves, rather than the fashions around. The pulsating opening riff of ‘The Lost Estate’, is quickly compounded by the drum beats and an electric charge, which the fluctuating depth of vocals only serves to keep the fires burning, whereas ‘Rhapsody’ seizes the soul more surreptitiously, the softness of the lyrics like a vocal blanket, gently enticing the listener into a state of semi consciousness. Colin believes this varied and various collage air due to the fact that the writing process isn’t a conscious one. ‘Which is probably why people find it so hard to put us in a bracket and pigeon hole us if you’ve got four individuals in a room, with four different life experiences, which they’re going to have then it would be really fake, clichéd and contrived to go oh we’ll sound like this. Why do so many bands sound the same? It’s ridiculous. If they were honest they wouldn’t sound like that, they’re just trying to fit in a bubble. We’ve never done that.’

This rawness of the writing process means that lyrically, the songs are an autobiography: ‘our own personal troubles. In a way we find it kind of cathartic to write a more euphoric melody with a darker subject matter.’

Despite their insistence that juxtaposition is the key to the Delays music, Star Tiger Star Ariel continues to offer the aura of opportunity that really elevates the Delays. ‘Brilliant Sunshine’ sounds exactly like that, when the sun rays of God seem to be peeping through the clouds, and even the exclamation of frustration 3 minutes in is not enough to dash the headlong pursuit of life that propels their music.

The hopeful element of Star Tiger Star Ariel is a philosophy that the boys seem to take to life. ‘I can’t wait for the World Cup’ exclaims Colin. ‘We’re having a party.’

Aaron echoes his enthusiasm. ‘What I love is that there’s all the opportunity, and none of the disappointment.’

Distilled into the latest album is this complexity of emotion, a potential rollercoaster, with a kind of holy hedonism pervading, just like England always take to the World Cup. Fortunately, Delays follow through, and come July 11th Star Tiger Star Ariel will continue to shine, one of the best albums of the year and a perfect progression in the band’s career, exposing their talent for conveying tension, tenderness and thrills. In short, being the epitome of an amazing band, and top of the table. Unlike Capello’s boys.

Published by Francesca Baker

Passionate about music, the world, exploring, literature and smiling. Writing, marketing and events for all my favourite things.

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