You won’t have ordered these bewitching noises; in fact, you won’t even have seen them on the menu. In a world of stodgily male indie rock un-surprises, the debut album from early-twentysomething Southamptonites Delays swoops in like a trilling, shimmering, frankly feminised confection of the angelically unexpected and the marketplace defying. Even if you’ve a notional grasp of what The Cocteau Twins covering The La’s might sound like?probably still the best thumbnail sketch of this lot on offer?it hardly prepares you for the startling swoon of fearlessly Liz Fraser-voiced singer Greg Gilbert and a portfolio of sweet, melancholically jangling vignettes.
Viewed in the sober light of rock history, of course, Delays’ musical touchstones are as easy to plot as they are difficult to reproduce?should anyone be so inclined, and on the evidence these are the only four English boys presently thus driven-with such starry-eyed charm. Gilbert’s harmony-festooned vocals summon up Fraser’s helium arabesques and David McAlmont’s Thieves-era testosterone defiance, underpinned with a delicious sugar-and-grit echo of Lee Mavers.
Musically, the band’s chiming, shyly pristine three-minute pop sweeps past the twin peaks of “California Dreaming” and “Hazy Shade Of Winter”; Teenage Fanclub at their blessed, blissful best; The Stone Roses at their least laddish and most gossamer (album closer “On” is a tumblingly instinctive hymn to “Waterfall”) and The Bangles’ imaginary-Merseyside yearnings.
From lump-throated start to regretful finish, it’s all shot through with a dreamy, nostalgia-soaked vulnerability peculiar, perhaps, to the young and stubbornly out of step.
Ultimately, it’s that out-of-time devotion?along with soaring choruses to put most contemporaries to shame?which makes this a debut record to cherish. From the first eye?wideningly girlish falsetto of opener “Wanderlust” through the irrepressible uplift of singles “Nearer Than Heaven” and “Long Time Coming”, all the way to a giddily sunshine-soaked “Hey Girl” that’s patently and brilliantly a “There She Goes” about sweethearts other than smack, Faded Seaside Glamour is an of-the-moment event of its own unlikely making.