Album: Positive Force
Artist: Delicate Steve
Delicate Steve – the name given to the alternative instrumental outfit hailing from New Jersey and fronted by Steve Marion – return merely a year after their debut album Wondervisions with their second offering. As might be expected with releases spaced so closely together, Positive Force does not diverge greatly from their first record.
Generally speaking, Positive Force is a meandering exploration of an experimental world of guitar-heavy, atmospheric electronic music. The album is largely instrumental, with vocals only featuring on a few tracks, such as ‘Wally Winder’, as but another instrument to add to the diverse handful of sounds employed by the band to give their ideas audible substance.
Styles range from tracks such as ‘Ramona Reborn’, light on the electronic notes with a focus on electric guitar and percussion, creating an odd collision of folk and ambient genres. The titular number which aims for a more familiar MGMT-esque synth-pop aesthetic, and parts of the record even feature what feels like throwbacks to CSNY-style sixties guitar riffs. It doesn’t sound awful but it also doesn’t particularly excite.
Positive Force is best likened to a lesser David Bowie’s Low. It strives for Low’s experimentalism, and is full of its guitar-emphasis and out-there sound-bytes, but lacks the verve and seventies grooviness that made that album such a success. This record is drab by comparison and is missing the variety that the similarly-veined Bowie/Eno collaboration offered, whereby its brilliant weirdness was offset by a handful of catchy pop hits such as ‘Sound and Vision’.
For those who eat up Sigur Ros records like Pac-Man gobbles white pellets, Positive Force is quite probably the next big thing. If you prefer a bit more rhyme and reason to your music, best cut a wide berth.
In a Nutshell: Ambient electro with a rustic, almost country-fête feel. It’s strange and not necessarily in a good way.
by Ethan Troy-Barnes