Review Summary: Delerium have released their first disappointing album in over 13 years.
I’m sad to report that the magic has been lost; the elements that made the previous 13 years worth of releases so good are missing. Before this release, Delerium
had been on a steady incline starting with 1994’s Semantic Spaces
which found the band dropping the monotonous electro-soundscapes of previous albums in favor of a more New Age/Pop influenced form of Electronica. That mixture peaked in 2003 with their release of Chimera
which was arguably one of their best releases, but was also their most Pop oriented. After its release there were some that complained about the lack of the more exotic elements that the band had previously incorporated into their songs.
Apparently Delerium listened, and their reaction to those complaints was to try to phase those exotic elements back in on this album and to not rely so much on the strength of their guest female vocalists. While trying to attempt this, something has gone wrong. Instead of bringing back the interesting exotic sounds, they simply marginalized the Pop influence of the music, leaving it sounding bare and unmemorable. With very little to work with and with most the Pop influence gutted, the vocalists have also churned out very mediocre performances as well.
Opening track, and first single, “Angelicus” is a perfect example of that. It starts out with some female vocals that are simply doing the “ooh” and “aah” thing, before a chill beat and some light keyboards come in. That kind of opening isn’t too surprising for this band, but the problem is that five minutes later she is still doing the exact same vocal that the song started with, and the music has remained fairly minimal and unchanging, still working with the same mellow beat and few keyboard sounds.
The following song is slightly better as the vocals at least contain actual words, but the song still lacks a defined hook and the music still seems kind of boring and minimal compared to past releases, consisting entirely of a somewhat energetic dance beat, and a few light echoing keyboard sounds. The same lack of interesting music combined with boring vocalists continues to varying degrees through the seventh track. At this point it has become apparent that one of the reasons that this album seems so boring is because of the formless nature of the songs. They just don’t seem to go anywhere, and when you combine that with the lack of hooks, minimal musical backing, and uninspired vocalists it is just a recipe for mediocrity.
It is not until the eighth track, “Fleeting Instant”, that something even remotely interesting is heard. This song features English Electronica artist, Kirsty Hawkshaw
, on vocals, and she is able to salvage what is still an average song musically. The song features a mellow Trip-Hop beat, more airy keyboards, and some acoustic guitar playing, but it is at least enough to hold the listener’s attention. In addition, her combination of soothing rhythmic vocals combined with some New Age chants, and a decent hook help make this one of only two good songs on the album.
The other good song is the tenth track, “Lost and Found”, featuring Jael of Lunik
. Jael also did guest vocals on Delerium’s previous album, helping to propel the single, “After All”, fairly high up the charts with her awesome vocals and ability to write great hooks. Unfortunately, despite being the best song on this album, “Lost and Found” doesn’t hold a candle to “After All” or even anything she has done with Lunik. The music is, again, fairly average and forgettable, consisting of a simple beat and minimal keyboard sounds but Jael is able to drag it up a few notches with her beautiful vocals and the catchiest chorus on the album.
When the two best songs on the album would only be considered average if they were on any of Delerium’s previous releases, it makes it fairly easy to recommend that people stay away from this album. If you’ve heard of Delerium before and want to look into them, I’d recommend Chimera
for Delerium at their poppiest, and Karma
for a good mixture of Electronica with New Age and skillful female vocalists. I’d also have to go so far as to say that even established fans of the band should think twice before purchasing this album.