Delicate Steve: WONDER VISIONS

Fri Mar 25 2011

I guess it’s true, what they say: now that Beefheart is dead, I keep seeing him everywhere.  (Who am I kidding--I saw him everywhere even before he died.)  But the opening track of Delicate Steve’s Wonder Visions, “Welcome-Begin”, sounds just like something The Captain might’ve written for Zoot Horn Rollo to play, but he plays it like he’s auditioning for AC/DC.  It makes you think you’re in for some bombastic rock record, but you’re not.  Whether that’s your thing or not, you won’t be disappointed.

Ostensibly, this is an electronic/organic hybrid pop record, and the unique and intricate guitar work is the unifying theme.  On “Sugar Splash”, it gets twisted into something resembling a cross between The Dirty Projectors and Ratatat, all squirrely and proggy.  “The Ballad Of Speck And Pebble” is bookended by an acoustic riff and bouncy beat very reminiscent of “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”, but it has a spacious, “Graceland” sort of feel to it overall.

Even in the absence of a dominant guitar part, Steve works out magic keyboard hooks: “WONDERVISIONS” gets into some spacey Nintendo organ, making you wonder if the artist ever thought about naming himself “Inner Stevie”.  Against some mellow clean picking, atmospheric synth and organic stomping beat, the heavily treated slide guitar on “Don’t Get Stuck” makes for a very engaging musical narrative; no words, but you’ll feel like a story is being told nevertheless.

The whole album is like that; despite a bit of singing here and there, it’s a virtually wordless uplifting tale with nary a misstep, insanely catchy and thrillingly eclectic.  Okay, for the most part, delicate indeed, but sometimes your mind needs to wander, and this is the soundtrack to those times.

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