The Delphines have always been a singles band. The A-side/B-side and EP formats seemed especially suited to the group, whose sly, sinewy, lo-fi garage rock was best enjoyed in short bursts, leaving an aftertaste of smoke and danger and sex. But eventually a question presented itself: Could one of Milwaukee’s finest bands sustain its leather-jackets-and-blood-red-lipstick act for a full album? As evidenced by Hush, The Delphines long-awaited LP, the answer is a resounding “yes.” Brevity gives way to a perfectly sustained mood, and the group sounds all the better for it.
An upgrade in production is evident from the first moments of opener “Screen Door,” which finds singers Jami Eaton and Harrison Colby once again circling each other like knife-wielding lovers amidst a smokescreen of reverb-drenched guitars and throbbing drums. While previous Delphines songs were recorded directly to an internal laptop mic (!), Hush boasts a fuller, more refined sound, especially on the schizophrenic title track and the triumphant “Feral.” “Eat You Alive,” meanwhile, finds the band moving ever closer to gloomy goth-club territory (albeit a gloomy goth-club spiked with generous amounts of piercing guitar stabs), and “Vice” stays true to the group’s pop- and post-punk roots with one of the album’s most deliciously unsteady compositions. All throughout, Hush never drops its aura of cool and cooing mystique—impressive for a record that was recorded in the disused Klement’s sausage factory.
That persistent vibe inevitably makes Hush something of a blur at times, though standout track “Little Viking” gives things a terrific jolt late in the game. Adding a bright, ringing, ’80s-indebted guitar hook to band’s time-tested formula works wonders, resulting in one of the best singles of the year. Which only makes sense: The Delphines have always been a singles band, and remain a singles band. Hush simply collects more of those singles under one roof. Its elicit aftertaste lingers longer, threatening—or is that promising?—to never leave.
The Delphines celebrate the release of Hush Saturday, May 31 at Riverwest Public House. Platinum Boys and No Bueno open the show. Cassette copies of Hush can be purchased here.
- “Little Viking”