SpectraSoul - Delay No More

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  • There's a bit in the intro to "Ish Chat" on Delay No More where you can hear the duo of David Kennett and Jack Stevens muttering something or other about their equipment, and it's a fitting little encapsulation of their music. That's because, if nothing else, Spectrasoul's output over the past six years is defined by its slick, clean sound. They make a streamlined sort of drum & bass that's comparable to Calibre but with less jungle and more mid-'00s muscle. Like so many of their crossover-potential counterparts, they've signed to Shogun Audio for a full-length, and Delay No More is a remarkably consistent effort that sees them taking the extra room to move carefully out of their comfort zone. Though the group's output has largely consisted of 170 BPM drum & bass, Delay No More is as much a "bass music" album as anything else, weaving between tempos naturally as if they've been doing it the whole time. The twiddling sad garage of "Knuckle Waltz"—flecked with plaintive classical guitar—and the twinkling midnight lullaby of "Fool's Paradise" both have a beautifully wounded sway that feels poignant rather than feigned. Sound design and production prowess like this usually comes at the cost of songcraft—and perhaps the biggest surprise of all with Delay No More is the resounding success of its vocal tracks. Basically pop songs with quantized beats, they form cornerstones of the LP, and with the swooping strings and pursed anxiety of "Light In The Dark" or the sensually-threatening build of "Away With Me," they make equally good pop singles as they do pieces of a larger whole. It's clear that much of the appeal—especially to ears that would generally ignore drum & bass these days—of Delay No More centers on its moves out of defined genre territory. The piano-driven "Sometimes We Lie" has a deceptive lilt despite its quivering low-end, with a well-repurposed vocal that effortlessly hugs the contours of the groove. More standard tracks like "The Curb" and "Shackles"—the latter with a dangerously hooky ragga rap from Fox—are incredibly detail-oriented, with nuggets of brilliant design hidden in their peripheries. However, as wonderful as everything sounds, there's something slightly anonymous in parts of Delay No More. As stated earlier, their aesthetic revolves around consummate polish, and that hasn't changed; what we have is an album of pleasing tracks rather than exciting ones. It's only on the vocal cuts that the duo sound truly trailblazing. But really, you can only break so much ground before it's all gone, and instead, Delay No More is an admirably well-constructed opus in a barren realm of overlong, tracky LPs.
  • Tracklist
      01. No Doubt 02. Light In The Dark feat. Terri Walker 03. Ish Chat 04. Sometimes We Lie 05. The Curb 06. Knuckle Waltz 07. Away With Me feat. Tamara Blessa 08. Fool's Paradise 09. Buggin' 10. S.O.U.R. feat. Echo Park 11. Memento 12. Shackles feat. Fox 13. Shoestring