The Delicate Project – The Great Refill

So imagine, Gene Wilder singing about guinea pigs over a trippy backdrop. If you can live with that then yes, this is for you.

 

http://thedelicateproject.bandcamp.com/

A long and occasionally maddening listen, but this is a record that I seem to be playing a lot recently. I’m not sure why. I’m not sure why I find the energy and time to review it either: maybe this is more an exercise in decoding my own feelings for my own satisfaction, rather than explaining to you what this LP is about. In any case; I’m not sure what the LP wants to do with itself, it’s a sprawling thing, and given the nature of the tracks (confessional, surreal, folksy) and given the nature of the sound (think late 60’s West Coast, maybe the most whimsical and florid efforts of Mr Fantasy era Traffic), it can require a fair bit of patience. Especially as the whole thing’s an hour of your time and there are some whopping eight minute forays into whimsy. But as I say I’ve played it quite a lot, I’m mildly diverted by it.

There’s a sort of instant, “just add water!” element to the songs; the band are adept at setting up the most recognisable of 60’s riffs and conceits to happily present them in some sort of café bar cabaret. Nothing Day reminds me of Berkshire Poppies, and the opener The Great Refill is a bit like Peace Frog. The crisp-sounding hooks are served on a platter for the listener, there’s nothing here that isn’t carefully giftwrapped... It’s whimsical, too; sometimes a bit daft (songs about guinea pigs talking to you) and the singer also sounds like Gene Wilder. So imagine, Gene Wilder singing about guinea pigs over a trippy backdrop. If you can live with that then yes, this is for you.

To be fair The Delicate Project are great at keeping a light hand on the tiller, it’s never a clumsy record, always well played, always looking to entertain you. There’s no ego: I’ve not heard a more genial record for ages. But there’s no menace either, no dark side to ponder. When a track (like, for example Genesis) tiptoes towards some mawkish Billy Joel territory you are fairly safe the thing won’t become some overblown paean of pomp. It’s more likely to execute a quick about turn and indulge in the sort of guitar breaks and keyboard runs that would sit happier on a David Axelrod record.

I wonder when I’m going to leave this LP alone. Strange but diverting stuff.