Oblique Seasons Out Now Via Land Ski Records/25 Diamonds.
Oblique Seasons’ opening track is called ‘Dysphoria (Dictionary Definition)’. You won’t be surprised to learn that it’s not a jaunty folk-pop number. Minneapolis-based Deleter’s debut LP is made up of twelve frenetic songs, through which the atmosphere fluctuates between creeping unease and outright dread. ‘Dysphoria’ kicks things off somewhere around the involuntary urination level, actually sounding a bit like Parquet Courts at their most sinister, as well as being indebted to post-punk antecedents such as The Fall and Joy Division.
The next two tracks, the single ‘Seclusion’ and the scathing ‘A Ridiculous Man’, are all about ratcheting up the atmosphere before the excellent middle section of the album swings into gear. Deleter are at their best when they step the tempo up, as they do on ‘Militant Idiot’, which, if it wasn’t for Knol Tate’s rasping vocals, would actually be a rather lovely jangly pop tune. As it is, it’s a charging, surging invective. It’s hard to be exactly sure who said invective is aimed at, as the lyrics throughout the album serve mainly to create an ambience rather than deal in specifics. However, I’ve a suspicion that the idiots here might be warmongering politicians (“never forget, you can’t change your Goddamn mind”).
Better still is the title track, which in fact has more than a whiff of The Cure about it. Heck, there’s even a few Tame Impala style shimmery noises floating away behind though, though never without a racing pulse front and centre. For twenty seconds, Deleter forget themselves completely and launch into a sensational burst of ecstatic pop-punk, before reining everything back in and reassuming their sombre doom merchant guise.
In between those two high points are three minutes of bristling, balls-out punk in the combined shape of ‘Macy Shot a Cop’ and ‘The Worst Person in the World’. Short but sweet and both featuring strong grooves from the rhythm section of Joshua McKay and Travis Collins, they’re Deleter at their angriest and most vital. Less impressive are the even shorter ‘Worry Less’ and ‘Labs Rats Revolt’, which sacrifice the neat, writhing guitar lines present on almost all of the other songs for bashing things in a fairly artless manner. They’re not bad exactly, but given the quality on show elsewhere, you feel the band could have done better. Some of the other songs might also have benefited from a bit more room to breathe; you feel like they could do a good job of a Sonic Youth type progressive jam if they wanted to.
Things take an interesting turn when Tate channels his inner Nick Cave on ‘No Culture’ and closer ‘You’re Assassinated’. The former is dark and nihilistic (“nothing is real, what you think you feel, there is no culture”), while the latter slinks along menacingly before building to an angsty chorus. It’s a fitting companion piece for ‘Dysphoria’ and reasserts the paranoid, forbidding tone of the LP.
All in all, Oblique Seasons is a strong debut, inventive, muscular and hugely atmospheric. Doubtless future releases will see Deleter be more ambitious and expand their sound beyond short bursts of razor-sharp post-punk, but for now they’ve done a great job of establishing a creepy, malevolent little niche for themselves.
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