opinion byISAAC BUCKLEY
On Apar, the follow up to 2010’s Subiza, the members of Delorean opted to move towards live instrumentation and away from the computer-based recording process of their previous work. Gone too are the sampled and pitch-shifted vocals found on Subiza, instead the band worked with live vocalists to craft what frontman Ekhi Lopetegi referred to as their “big production album.”
Apar starts strong with its first track, the lead single “Spirit.” By far the stand out track of the album, “Spirit” sets the standard to which the following songs aspire, with varying degrees of success. Punchy drums and ecstatic major chord synths combine with ethereal choir vocals to evoke feelings of transcendence in the midst of a sweaty nightclub.
“Unhold,” featuring vocals by Caroline Polachek of Chairlift, is another of the album’s more effective tracks. Her virtually indistinguishable lyrics lilt playfully over relentless but lively instrumentation.
More often than not Lopetegi’s lyrics belie the upbeat energy of the music. Recorded in the band’s native Spain amidst a troubling financial crisis, Apar reflects the maturation of the band’s four members. After touring for three years in support of Subiza, the band returned home to record Apar, and perhaps in response to the chaos of life on the road, the album was constructed in a workmanlike manner. According to Lopetegi the band would, “wake up, go to work, have a lunch break, keep working and meet up with friends after.”
This deliberate attitude to songwriting wears on the tunes that make up the latter half of the album. Too often they seem constructed by competent musicians rather than created by inspired artists. The second half of Apar consists of paint-by-numbers compositions that are easy enough on the ears but fail to leap out at the listener or vary from the pop dance formula to which this album adheres. I almost would have preferred a misguided experiment that failed spectacularly than the plodding consistence that bogs down the end of the record. After all, a spectacular failure is at least a spectacle and there is not much on Apar after “Unhold” (the fourth track) that begs for repeated listens.
Delorean does nothing particularly wrong, but too often this mature and seasoned iteration of the band seems comfortable playing it safe. On “Walk High,” Lopetegi sings, “The only vistas that I’m aiming for/ keeps me close and facing you.” Perhaps he would have done better to venture to vistas a bit farther out of his band’s comfort zone. By the end, Delorean fails to accomplish that most essential task of dance-oriented music: physically moving the listener.
The lackluster end to the album would be a less bitter pill to swallow had the previous tracks not displayed such promise. “Destitute Time” and “Dominion” both have the catchy pop melodies and house music fortitude to command a dance floor.
The two joined crosses displayed plunging into the water on the cover of Apar resemble those made for graveyards by the Basque artist Jorge Orteiza. Indeed, the title itself is a Basque word meaning “froth” or “foam.” Unfortunately, apart from the delicious pop dance tunes of “Spirit” and “Unhold,” Apar fails to make any real waves. [C+]