Review Summary: Completely serene and at often times haunting; this is a brilliant debut offering from 55 Deltic, masterfully combining bleak riffs and emo lyricism.
I've listened to a lot of music in my short life thus far; yet never did I expect to come across a British Railway-themed band - and much to my surprise, 55 Deltic are bloody brilliant. Despite whatever your current *train* of thought might be, do not worry: Deltic do not sing about railways for 30 minutes on this record. Instead, we are gifted this magical blend of cryptic lyricism with emo tendencies generously lavished on top. American Home is a short and sweet delicacy, and one that needs to be obsessed over for a couple days to really appreciate, and luckily I did that bit for you:
The first thing noticeable about this record from the get-go is its' bleak atmosphere. Much like their slowcore contemporaries, Deltic pull off a desolate but somehow optimistic sound on the short titular opening track. Reminiscent of acts like Duster, and even some shoegaze-esque bands like DIIV - it lulls around a light riff while the vocalist recites the album's title to us. It is a beautiful, albeit non-lengthy, moment. This only builds as the album progresses. "Glendale Girls" sees the bassline take a more sinister tone in its latter half - while the dreamy chords of "Tangen" lull you back into a sleep-state before the explosive end portion of the album. It is very easy to get immersed in this album; however, the structure of the songs and lack of diversity can take away from that factor as a few tracks can seem to drone on a tiny bit, and they do blend into each other a little too much. This is a relatively minor caveat though, as the shorter length of the tracks compensate for the formulaic song structure, and "Leeds New Line" provides a much needed instrumental break at the halfway-ish point.
While I love the first portion of American Home, the point after "Leeds [...]" is where the band starts to take the grunge influence up a notch, creating a wildly interesting listening experience despite "Glendale Girls" and "Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Line" both being highlights for the album. The remaining three tracks are longer than a majority of the rest, giving the 4-piece much more breathing space. Concepts are more fleshed out, and the chords and vocals are allowed to really shine. The bass is perhaps my favourite part about these tracks, and the rest of the album by proxy - but I'll talk about that more later. Inflections of emo really start to come through here as well, "I dreamt I was swimming with my face in her hair", "I cant stand I am frayed / paralysed by the emptiness / I’m so small I’m afraid / Held it to my bare extremities / Pressing hard against my arms / I find there’s nothing left to hurt / There is nothing left to hurt", among others are fairly odd lines, but create really vivid imagery for me, and move the atmosphere from bleak, to heavily emotional. This carries through to "Eden Valley Line" which incorporates droning synths, roaring feedback and even some screamed vocals. It is a massively powerful track, carrying a huge amount of hurt and pain with it, and is easily my favourite track from this record. Even if you disregard this album, I implore you to listen to this track. The last moments of the album are much calmer, however, and an orchestral fade-out carries the emotional weight all the way to the last second of the record.
55 Deltic are a DIY project, and so their production choices may not be for everyone. However, I think the lo-fi-esque nature of the record is what carries it forward. Some of the cleans are slightly distorted, and the vocals are quiet and laden with reverb. It is quite a unique listen from the production standpoint, and with all the additional instruments played by Jordie Bokor as well as the synths played by the rest of the band, the layers that are gradually added among all of the tracks creates a really dreamy sound and is generally a non-muddy mix even with the heavy bass. Guitars and their various effects are really used as compliments when not playing the grungy chords, and on the quieter moments of the album the bass takes all the priority: usually incorporating a darker tonality than the rest of the instruments being played. On the polar opposite of the spectrum, when songs do explode, which they tend to, the guitar and drums are at the forefront. Despite the aforementioned lack of songwriting diversity at points, the production is constantly diverse; everything is given its' time to shine per se, with the vocals added on top to complete the recipe.
Although the songs are slow, and they do not sing about trains, 55 Deltic have created an incredibly exciting debut record with You Could Own an American Home. It is equally serene as it is haunting, and has stayed in my mind since my first listen. Even with its small size, it carries huge weight, and when the heavier, more emotional parts start to rear their head they really do hit you like a truck/train.
I highly suggest you give this a try, these guys need to be heard and given some support.
"Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway"
"Eden Valley Line"