Many of us at Everything Is Noise have been long-time fans of Delta Sleep, the fun indie math rock act out of Brighton, UK. Ghost City is a fun-filled record that I still find myself listening to regularly. Looking back, it is not only one of the best rock albums of 2018, but probably the decade. Funnily enough, when we described this record in our list of best albums of 2018, we pointed out a unique ability that Delta Sleep possess: to create complex compositions that sound like some friends having the time of their lives in a shitty garage and just enjoying music for the sake of making it. So it should not be a surprise, that is the precise focus on their new live record – Soft Sounds.
Unlike most artists who chose a special occasion or a specific performance to release a live album, Delta Sleep‘s Soft Sounds is an audio-visual diary of how far they themselves, and their music has traveled in the past few years – both as songwriters and physically while touring. Recording not only live renditions of some of their most popular songs, but also showcasing the locations through some eye-catching cinematography, this is no ordinary live album. From Parisian rooftops to the lanes of Tokyo, to parks in Dallas, the album takes us on a unique journey, and not mentioning the work behind the camera in this review would not do justice to Soft Sounds as a whole.
Fans of Delta Sleep will be aware that this is not the first time we are getting to hear a more raw version of their songs, with the four-track Record Store Day release of Ghost City Rarities EP still fresh from last year. Three of the tracks on the EP are once again featured here: “Afterimage”, “Single File”, and “Sans Soleil”, but with a completely different vibe. Where “Single File” feels much more complete on the live record when compared to the Rarities EP, thanks to a full band performance, “Sans Soleil” is much more stripped-down this time around. The latter was still being put together by the group when recorded for Soft Sounds, resulting in lead vocalist/guitarist Devin tackling it alone, giving the music a touch of vulnerability that is bound to please the attentive listener.
The most touching part of this audio-visual diary is the song from their last studio EP Younger Years – “Three Ghosts.” With a run-time of just two minutes, the song is the smallest on Soft Sounds, but the accompanying video shot in the beautiful Aegean Sea (off the coast of Turkey) spans just under seven minutes. While tackling issues such as mental health and effect on memory with aging, the video focuses on a bunch of kids living and enjoying life on the boat. This paradoxical piece is shot with real beauty, and the narration of Daniel Mark Extrom‘s poem “That You Remember Me” for Alzheimer’s Disease patients adds a truly emotional touch. If nothing else, the beauty of such moments make this record a must watch!
For a band that has been consistent in putting out new material, the album did need something to reflect the current times. After all, it comes at a time when bands across the globe are unable to tour, and the lives of millions have been affected by the pandemic. “A Casa” (a.k.a. At Home) is recorded during the quarantine, with each member recording their bit at their separate place. Its sober tone is perfect to close Soft Sounds, as the music fades away with lyrics of hope: ‘and in the dead of night, with the darkness on my side, I can see the light (I can see it shine).’
If you have never heard the happy tunes of Delta Sleep (have you been living under a rock?), I would recommend going back to Ghost City and losing yourself to its beats. For all those that have followed the band’s upward trajectory over the years, Soft Sounds is the perfect soundtrack for the summer. 2020 may not have anything ‘normal’ about it, but I believe these tunes can provide a slight sense of comfort that we all need.