I seem to have developed a taste for reviewing solo artists with monikers, and today follows the same suit. New Jersey's producer come songwriter Steve Marion, aka Delicate Steve, who has opened for the likes of Battles, Yeasayer and Cut Copy over the years, and is set to play this year's End of the Road Festival, brings us his debut album Wondervisions, which is released through Luaka Bop. With a comical bio written by Chuck Klosterman in which Delicate Steve is described as the 'wordless New Jersey U2' and 'sounding like My Bloody Valentine without the guitars', it's hard not to show this record an unfair amount of attention.
Tongue-in-cheek press releases aside, Marion has created a very different piece of work. Instrumental throughout, apart from just about audible vocals on 'The Ballad of Speck and Pebble', it's actually surprisingly accessible for a form of music that leaves many wondering which bits they can sing along to. I can't imagine the organisers of PDC Darts will be rushing to replace 'Chase The Sun' with anything from Wondervisions, but then that's not what the album is trying to achieve, which makes this sentence relatively pointless. From the Animal Collective sound of 'Sugar Splash', past the needless interludes, through to Laura Marling guitars of 'Attitude Gratitude', this is an album that is covering all the genres and filling the gaps in between. The highest point of the record comes in the form of 'Butterfly', which is an almost exact replica of the life of a butterfly. Starting at a medium pace, representing life as a caterpillar (or caterpie if you learned your biology from Pokémon), fading in the middle like a cocoon, before exploding into a finale that Gold Panda would be proud of.
Different, but not ground breaking. Accessible, but not enough to be an album you'd recommend to someone who didn't listen to instrumental music. Moments of brilliance are swiftly followed by areas of confusion, and what it lacks in flow it makes up for in variance. It's a solid beginning for Delicate Steve, but with only one clear single on the album, it's hard to see it exploding in popularity, although it should garner enough of a following to make him a name on your radar.