After kicking off their career as roots revivalists, the members of Delta Spirit reinvent themselves as modern-day indie rockers on their third album.
The transition can be jarring, especially for devoted fans of the band’s countrified beginnings. Gone are the acoustic guitars, ragged production and earthy performances. Instead, a wide arsenal of electric instruments — including synthesizers — help push the band away from Fleet Foxes territory and closer to the sonic terrain occupied by Wilco and My Morning Jacket, two bands that also abandoned their folksy roots for a more eclectic sound.
The best song on this self-titled release is “California,” a breezy pop tune whose vocal harmonies and hazy, summery chorus pay tribute to the Golden State. Not every track packs such a strong punch, though, and Delta Spirit’s willingness to explore a new direction occasionally gets the better of them. At the end of the day, this is still a band whose songs are defined by catchy melodies and riffs, so something is lost whenever the band devotes its focus to the presentation of the music rather than the music itself.
Give the guys some credit, though. Here is a young band willing to scrap its original agenda and go with a different plan entirely, and the result is an adventurous collection of rock songs steeped in the present, not the past. That’s the spirit.