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Saturday, May 31, 2008 

Touched your hand in the blue of the swimming pool

For someone who is often, as John Cunningham has pointed out, "drawn to bleak claustrophobic records in minor keys (Low, Burial, The Knife, Joy Division, etc.)," and who has been surprised at how little rock makes it to the top of my year end lists, this has been an awfully good year for me and upbeat, emotionally available rock. In order not of preference but of (for lack of better word) happiness, we've had Delays, Vampire Weekend, Los Campesinos!, to an extent Foals, the Dodos, Elbow, and so on. Of these, at least Delays, Los Campesinos! and Elbow are pretty certain to hit near the top of 2008 list, and while some of the other stuff you're going to see up there is more minor key in the sense that John means it (The Wedding Present), less rock (Hot Chip) or both (Portishead).

But it's Delays and their new album, Everything's the Rush (not available in North America, god dammit) that I've really been focusing on recently. I love the similarly import-only You See Colours from 2006 pretty fiercely, and in "Valentine" it has a track better than anything here, or on most album really. But Everything's the Rush sees them being more confident about being so technicolour, so florid, so sentimental, and when the candy coated romance of "Love Made Visible" or the self-conscious sweep of "Pieces" kicks in, it now really kicks. They do things that I'd think were maudlin or risible coming from a lesser band, but they make me believe it, utterly; I can intellectually conceive of having a response to "Hooray" or "Love Made Visible" that doesn't involve grinning, but I can't really feel it.

Some of the Stylus guys who introduced me to the band don't like "Love Made Visible" or its counterpart "One More Lie In," which really has to follow the song on the album (the two together make the whole thing practically glow with romance), and I guess I get why; when the former starts up and launches immediately into a chorus of high school love poetry backed by a rhythm section still intent on bringing a little disco to indie rock and not just Greg Gilbert's incredible rough-and-smooth voice but also one of the other guys in the band (who has the temerity to take lead a few times on the album, something I don't mind as long as the songs are good), it's powerful, but that word doesn't necessarily have to be used as a superlative. If this isn't your thing, then Delays must seem like the worst kind of overkill, sort of the way I feel about Muse. But ultimately their hooks and melodies work for me (unlike Nick, I find myself humming this stuff distressingly often) and so rather being drowned in sugar or something it feels like an explosion made out of hugging or something equally asinine but also awesome. Which isn't to denigrate Delays, or my love of them - just to say that it probably looks silly at best and embarrassing at worst. If they ever played Toronto, though, I'd be up front singing along to every line.

I'm with you on this one. The other one I feel similarly about, although it isn't nearly as sugary, is last year's Puressence album.

I hadn't even heard of that one, although I have the vague feeling you'd mentioned the name before... I'll have to check it out.

I've never heard of these fellows before, but I'm sure it isn't hard to guess which side of the fence I fall on.

I think I've settled into an anti-indie pop curmudgeonly state. Bah-humbug.

To be honest, I'm mostly in that state myself... it's the rare band that slips past my disinclination to give much time to indie pop these days.

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Ian Mathers is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Stylus, the Village Voice, Resident Advisor, PopMatters, and elsewhere. He does stuff and it magically appears here.

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