The Delays

Faded Seaside Glamour

Listening to this Britpop band's debut CD is like enjoying a perfectly dry martini, only to discover that the olive is rotten. Playing the part of the olive is lead singer Greg Gilbert, whose voice takes disturbing turns from ethereal falsetto to raspy growl. If he stayed aloft -- making like a doppelgänger for the Cocteau Twins' Elizabeth Fraser -- everything would be hunky-dory, especially considering the Southampton quartet's euphoric mix of jangly guitars and buoyant keyboards (not to mention the steel drums on "Wanderlust"). But that guttural snarl is so painful -- it's like finding glass in a birthday cake, like discovering the wrong anatomy on a blind date. (Lyrics such as "I've seen you hanging from blistering skies/ Holding yourself in a great sacrifice" don't help.) The songs end up sounding like the La's or Coldplay fronted by a smarmy glam-metal singer. The world isn't ready for this kind of mixed drink.

 
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