Delorentos: True Surrender – Dublin band rip it up and start again

Abandoning an album recorded in sunny Spain, Delorentos go back to black in style

True Surrender
    
Artist: Delorentos
Genre: Rock
Label: Delo Records

Turmoil has always generated the impetus that fuels many of Delorentos's songs, and which drives them from merely good to brilliant. Remember that when this band split up in 2009, two years after the release of their debut album, In Love with Detail, they quickly backtracked to release their second album, You Can Make Sound. The decision to stick around proved fortuitous. In 2012, their third album, Little Sparks, won the Choice Music Prize, and two years later came an even better album: Night Becomes Light, an excellent song cycle that displayed empathetic twists and turns, with home and hearth seeping from every creative pore.

To paraphrase a well-known song, however, there was trouble ahead, and so almost four years later we finally get album number five. If you’re guessing that it didn’t arrive without heaps of conflict and anxiety then you are correct. What happened was this: in the autumn of 2015, with access to a compact studio located in a vineyard in northern Spain, the band recorded 15 songs. When they arrived back in Dublin, however, in accordance with the Irish climate, the temperature of the new tunes dropped. The sense of them being too similar to previous work, with the lyrics obscuring real intent, caused Delorentos to rip up the so-termed “Vineyard Album” and start all over again.

The complications didn't stop there. The following two-and-a-bit years proved just as problematic, with various members relocating, relationships shifting, children being born. Into this mix was added not only the usual demands and concerns of parenting, but also worrying the new songs into different shapes. True Surrender is aptly titled – it is the work of a band that has obligingly (just about) removed its armour, rebuilt its layers, opened up its heart, and constructed a new way of doing things.

Keeping company with people whose opinions – designed to please or not – they could trust was crucial. Recorded in Donegal's Attica Studios (overseen by former Villagers member Tommy McLaughlin) and with co-writes by the band and Jape's Richie Egan, the songs strike a nerve at the heart and the head from the very start. The album gets its name from the first song, Stormy Weather, which sees Delorentos willingly concede defeat ("I see stormy weather coming at me across the great water, it's a true surrender like I've been longing for . . . I went missing when it mattered . . ."). Love Me for Who I Am ("when this weight is on your shoulders, I'm your pillar underneath") and Am I Done (the raw, confessional tone of which echoes A House's I Am Afraid) are fine examples of a band locating important descriptive touchstones.


By the final two songs, Deep in the Heart and Just Like Everybody Else, there is not so much an admission of failure as a realisation that, whether we want them to or not, for better or worse, things change. The former's uncertainty ("Deep in the heart of love, wherever that is, whatever that means . . . down where the air is cold and the lights are low, afraid of what is real . . .") and the latter's allegiance ("I still want you, and somehow you still want me . . . We'll stumble through the heavy days . . .") balance out the delicate tenor of what resides in between.

It isn't light listening, and occasionally the music is as solemn as the words, but Delorentos nonetheless deliver a feasible overview of how to put right those dreaded things that go wrong, all to a background of melodic, spiky pop/rock music. It is so good, in fact, that we look forward to more uncertainty and tension in the years to come. No apologies.

Tony Clayton-Lea

Tony Clayton-Lea

Tony Clayton-Lea is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in popular culture