It’s safe to say you’ve never heard a band quite like New Jersey’s Delicate Steve. Oh, sure, there are some clear reference points in the band’s psychedelic, guitar heavy instrumentals (particularly Dirty Projectors, whose maestro/guitar god Dave Longstreth also makes a point of pushing his instrument’s boundaries), but beneath all the synth squeals, trademark indie rock ramshackle quirks, and six-string mania, Delicate Steve are working a sort of science most of their peers aren’t concerned with: fun.
Wondervisions’ 42 minute running time actually flies by, barely pausing for breath, unfolding one batch of instrumental wonder after another. Leading the surge is mastermind Steve Marion, who wrote and recorded the album completely on his lonesome before adding a touring band to flesh his songs out live. In my recent interview with Marion, he opened up about his influences, gushing on soul greats like Aretha Franklin and Sam Cooke, as well as Allman Brothers guitar veterans Duane Allman and Derek Trucks. Wait a minute–an indie pop album with soul/blues influences? Those aren’t your traditional indie references, folks. Remarkably, Marion actually manages to pay homage to them, resulting in sonic excavations that sound truly out of step with what’s fashionable. On “Don’t Get Stuck (Proud Elephants)”, Marion wrangles an acoustic slide guitar with a slip-sliding groove immersed in twang. On the title track, funky ass synths percolate into outer space, blaring beautiful melodies over booming drums and bass. It’s a spectacular highlight on an album of small, unexpected wonders–ironic considering it’s the sole track on the album where an ethereal guitar solo is the exception rather than the rule.
Really, it doesn’t matter what instrument Marion’s playing. On Wondervisions, he proves himself a master of melody, no matter the context.
By: Ryan Reed – firstname.lastname@example.org[Rating: 4/5]