When you think of a band writing a song you probably imagine the cliché bunch of musicians huddled in a garage and slamming at their instruments until they finally have something worthy of recording. Well in today’s digital world it seems like this cliché is simply just not how it works anymore.
With a big fuzzed out bass and roaring brass section that completely reinterprets how you should be playing the sax, it’s hard to believe that The Deltahorse had never actually played in the same room together at the time of recording. Consisting of members from three global cities (Berlin, Boston and Belfast), it’s only through the miracles of modern file sharing that The Deltahorse have been able to write, record and release their fittingly titled debut album ‘Transatlantic’, all while in entire isolation from one another.
With their debut record boasting a solid ten tracks that are distinctively their own, the thing that really stands out is just how effortlessly they’ve merged such unique instrumentation into an indie sound that’s so familiar. This may be in part due to how they’ve employed the saxophone in their songs.
You see, although Transatlantic does feature some pretty catchy big band-esque sax hooks in songs like ‘Call It A Day’ and ‘Happy Heart (Can Go For Miles)’, for The Deltahorse the sax seems to have the function of a supporting bass more than a bright and sparkly lead line. Songs like ‘Easy life’ and ‘Summer Mode’ really drive on the deep bellow of the horns until they masterfully open up to the sax’s higher register to release their songs into the full climax of chorus. The result is a record that from start to finish feels much edgier and darker than anything you’ve come to expect from a band that features a saxophone so heavily.
Absolute credit should be given to The Deltahorse for their efforts on Transatlantic as the task alone of collaborating and recording this album is an absolute accomplishment in itself, but I just can’t help but feel that as you listen to the record more and more the whole project could have been something so much more if they were able to use a more traditional recording style. For me, there just seems to be this real elusive energy missing from the heart of some of these songs that given the opportunity in the studio to vibe and jam, would have instantly been injected into their veins.
This isn’t to say however that this process hasn’t worked for The Deltahorse, it just means that purely by a style based comparison, it has worked better in the past for more electronically focused projects like ‘The Postal Service’ who recorded an album under similar circumstances back in 2003.
Despite all odds though, The Deltahorse have indeed put together an absolute quality collection of songs here that really possess a sound that is unique unto themselves. All things considered this is absolutely great album, but let’s just say I reckon these songs are going to kick ten times more ass on the live stage as they do in the recording.
Call It A Day
Happy Heart (Can Go for Miles)
How It Stacks Up
3.2 ♦ ♦ ♦ ◊ ◊