He’s called Greg Gilbert inside the album sleeve, but I’m not entirely convinced that Delays’ front man/guitarist is male. Gilbert’s voice soars past any mop-top Brit that’s ever graced a Southampton stage, and the backing vocals are just as heavenly there on the band’s Rough Trade debut, Faded Seaside Glamour.
England’s Delays — Greg Gilbert and his brother Aaron alongside Rowley Fox and his brother Colin, all of whom formerly comprised a Brit-pop-a-la-Oasis band called Corky — immerse their sparkly pop numbers in walls of guitar and organ, hoping to effectively emulate a sunny sixties California vibe whose origin is damn far from Southampton. They succeed in this respect, and it’s not as daunting a task that you might think; Gilbert could easily pass for Graham Nash in flowery shirts, rolling out Billboard gems for the Hollies.
The foursome reluctantly embraces shoegazer ideology on “Nearer Than Heaven,” trading spacey Ride licks with a Carnaby Street drum groove. It’s one that can easily slide into the “repeat” category; it’s completely displacing in its wayward-bound atmospherics and sea-breeze melody. The band is at its best here, which is not to say that the rest of Faded Seaside Glamour isn’t stocked with summertime morning pop structures. Because it is, man.
Toward the record’s final moments, drummer Rowley Fox smashes through the end of the charging “One Night Away” in such a head-turning manner that we nearly miss out on the glorious multi-part harmony that leads us into the album closer. Delays unveils at least several really strong tracks on Faded Seaside Glamour, but their product suffers somewhat from the songs kind of blending together in their sameness. But that doesn’t detract too much from their prevalent knack for catchy songs. Their trip with the Thrills in 2003 may have gotten them associated even more with sixties-savvy pop circles, but Delays relies just as much on nineties Brit incarnations. The band melds the two fertile eras together to form this sometimes-happy four-piece with such gender-mysterious vocals. Where’s the real singer, Gilbert, and what have you done with her?