ALBUM REVIEW: Delta Mainline – ‘Bel Avenir’

7/10

Those seeking music with layers, depth, atmosphere and melody should seek out Delta Mainline’s new record. ‘Bel Avenir’ is the Edinburgh band’s second album, and follows on from the acclaimed 2013 debut ‘Oh! Enlightened’. Recorded across Chamber Studio, Castlesound Studios and Chem19, the LP was produced by Delta Mainline and mixed by Paul Savage (producer and former member of The Delgados). Additional recording sessions took place at Govan Town Hall and The Cottage (Loch Fyne, Scottish Highlands).

Krautrock rhythms, colourful synths, epic arrangements and warming vocals make a joyous mixture on the opening lead track ‘Folk Stories and Fairytales’. Elsewhere on the record, there are psychedelic-infused electronics on ‘Still Morning’, expansive shoegaze vibes on ‘Only History’, and a harder edge on the standout ‘Visions Of Post America’, which turns up the guitars on a collection of tracks largely coloured by synths and keys. Tender organic beauty develops into something more otherworldly during the unfolding ‘22.23 In Rome’, which concludes with some superb ‘Life On Mars’-like piano, while the rich, harmonious ‘Deep Winters Isolation’ is subtly elegant.

The pace steps up for ‘Jesus In A Minor Key’, which pairs the melodic touch of Arcade Fire with excellent synths, before the introspection drifts back into the frame on the hazy, pedal steel and brass-assisted ‘Mountain Music’, another one of ‘Bel Avenir”s highlights. The sparkling dream-pop opus ‘Love Without Fear’ is as calming as it is moving, until it evolves into a heavier form and takes flight. Showcasing more marvellous instrumentation, ‘A Document Of Human Weakness’ isn’t a million miles from what an OMD/Spiritualized collaboration might sound like. Saving the very best until last, the closing ‘Skin And Bones’ is truly essential listening, wrapping things up on a reflective note with sumptuous chords, heavenly strings and the album’s most alluring vocal.

A satisfying mixture of garage rock, psychedelia, electronic, Krautrock and hymnal ballads that grows on the eras with each listen.

‘Bel Avenir’ is available now as a digital download and very limited edition pink vinyl LP. The band play live dates at the Meadows Festival in Edinburgh on 2 June, and the Kelburn Garden Party on July 7, with more to be announced soon.

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