Album Review: Delta Mainline – Oh! Enlightened

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Delta Mainline- Oh! Enlightened

Scottish band Delta Mainline have received their fair share of crtical acclaim but are yet to break into the big time. Maybe not following the current trend of adopting accent heavy singing voices has prevented them reaching the same success level as Biffy Clyro or even Twin Atlantic. If anything, there’s a hint of U2 to their sound, at times seeming like Bono’s side project. New album ‘Oh! Enlightened’, however, could be what thrusts them into the limelight. There’s even an exclamation mark to get everyone excited.

Before we get started, there’s an important point to make. This album doesn’t work on shuffle. It has to be enjoyed in order and, if you can, in one go. The songs aren’t interlinked, they just work better as an ensemble. Tus Nua certainly doesn’t need to be heard in any other situation, as it only serves as an introduction.

Misinformation is allowed to skip introducing itself because of the segway it has already been given and announce its presence on the record. It also sets a tone for what to expect from the album; falling into the trap of realising distorting vocals make for a cool effect, but overdoing it a little so there’s a genuine struggle to understand the words (this is particularly noticable in Self Inflicted, a track which you’ll have to listen to a few times just to check the first word isn’t, in fact, “lemonade”).

Stop This Feeling and The Church is Up For Sale opt for more melancholy beginnings, rather than starting fast and loud. If you don’t find yourself enjoying The Church Is Up For Sale after 2 minutes, you may aswell skip to the next track and save yourself the remaining 4 minutes, it sticks with the slow music + barely understandable words throughout. Stop This Feeling‘s tempo change midway prevents it running the same risk as Home to You and lingering on the edge of boring. The vocals are clearer, filled with emotion and complimented by the acoustic guitar but it feels like it’s been done to death. There’s also too much tambourine. I can’t stress that enough. Too. Much. Tambourine.

Dark Energy is one of the low points of the album, ruined again by the decision for any words being impossible to decipher and, in this case, being few and far between. Of all the songs that would fit being lyric-lite, this isn’t one of them (The Strange Fate of Raoul Duke would be the best of them all if they’d dared to leave it as just a musical stop-gap between tracks). To start with, it feels like there’s something missing and, when it picks up a minute and a half in, it feels like there needs to be something important that people should be hearing having the time dedicated to it but they’re wasting the opportunity (singing something about dark energy). It also makes the mistake of using the “our instruments have gone insane and now there’s feedback and stuff” ending, which only works if you’ve been going wild with them to begin with.

When listening to this album, you get the sense very early on that Delta Mainline are more concerned about what’s going on musically than if their lyrics are audible or good. In that respect, they’re solid enough. You get the feeling like they’re very well rehearsed and have put a lot of time and effort into what they do. It’s worth a listen, the mix of slow and fast means there’s likely to be something you’ll like, whether you like to find yourself immersed in a smooth, acoustic melody or throwing yourself into musical chaos. Occasionally, it verges on pretentious but so does a lot of stuff people listen to, so that shouldn’t stop people giving it a go.