On Deliluh’s 2019 LP Beneath the Floors, the then Toronto-based quartet concocted song structures sprinkled with Sonic Youth-like intensity with a dash of melancholia. It was also possible then to draw a line between them and Montreal group Ought (and now that band’s successor, Cola). Accessible and full of artistic promise, it certainly didn’t prepare anyone (Deliluh or their fanbase) for what was to follow.
Three years on, the DIY art-rock band now reside in Europe (Berlin and Marseille, respectively) and make music as a duo. The tonal breadth across their third offering, Fault Lines hasn’t suffered from these changes, neither is their sound compromised. And while there’s still some Sonic Youth sensibilities coursing through the work, the influence of one song in temperament and temperature is impossible to shake whilst listening – Suicide’s ‘Frankie Teardrop’. Tense, throbbing electronic motifs paired with ominous thumps of percussion permeating ‘Body And Soul’ immediately nod towards the challenging composition from Alan Vega and Martin Rev. As does ‘X-Neighbourhood’ with its harrowing pulse and eerie textures. Moreover, Knapp’s spoken delivery (which strongly evokes Lou Reed and Brian Molko) of “You’re one of my best / You’re one of my favourite toys / Along for the ride,” effectively amplifies the sinister tone.
These seven songs initially took form while Deliluh were still a foursome. Over lockdowns and relocations, the duo took time dismantling and rebuilding their sound. Nocturnal in its nature, this recalibration is endlessly intriguing. The gritty guitar tones vibrate with a metallic robustness (‘Syndicate II’) while closing track ‘Mirror of Hope’ gives the most texturally rich and rousing moment on the album. The synths echo like a whale calling underwater, an arpeggiated melody envelops Knapp’s oration, a spellbinding saxophone commands us, and the late-arriving strings are unexpected and utterly astounding. Fault Lines is both petrifying and pretty. It’s because of this duality that keeps the listener engaged.
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