Morgan Delt: Phase Zero

Photo: Matt Draper

Delt sounds like a vinyl LP left out in the LA sun, with the melted wax frozen into a popsicle that melts perfectly while you eat it.

Morgan Delt

Phase Zero

US Release: 2016-08-26
UK Release: 2016-08-26
Label: Sub Pop

Hailing from California, Morgan Delt sounds like a vinyl LP left out in the LA sun, with the melted wax frozen into a popsicle that melts perfectly while you eat it. He returns two years after his self-titled debut with Phase Zero, a record that is as inviting as it is warm, and will reward you if you wade into it’s neck deep psychedelia.

Taking cues from Tame Impala and Deerhunter, Delt’s vocals are the attraction, if you can find them, layered beneath fuzz and reverb. Most indie rock fans will find a lot to like here. Lovers of the Flaming Lips may find themselves wishing Wayne Coyne still made records like this; free of gimmicks and full of songs. One highlight is “System of 1,000 Lies”, which takes Coyne’s old trick of a sweet as honey melody with contrasting dystopian lyrics. Another standout is “Sun Powers”, which has a synthesizer piercing through the track like a Star Trek laser in an echo chamber. The bass on "Mssr. Monster" is strong and rhythmic, recalling some early Black Moth Super Rainbow records, but when the song turns to its dark chorus, unfortunately, it can’t hold its own weight.

Phase Zero finishes with two of its strongest tracks. “Escape Capsule” marches forward like an alien funeral procession and “Some Sunsick Day” clicks in with a solid guitar and a surfer attitude. The syrupy production on the record will be the determiner of your enjoyment of it. If the sounds of a 40-minute indie pop record drenched in reverb and Steven Drozd sounds good to you, then it is a pretty good shot you will love this record. In fact, my guess is, if you are still reading, you will love Morgan Delt.

As Sub Pop’s artists shift away from polite indie folk to world-influenced jam rock (Goat) and '80s revival (Kristin Kontrol), its great to hear a record that doesn’t fit into a scene, or need to. But with or without a scene, this record will be sure to find an audience, and would sound great on any festival lineup in America, the hotter the better. The longing in Morgan’s voice separates this from whatever other indie pop record you tried and failed to enjoy this year. He isn’t concerned with hiding what records influenced him, only in making you remember why you loved them in the first place.

Finally, he must be a good editor or not terribly prolific. Either way, 10 songs and 40 minutes is a length that would improve a good number of records in the streaming era. As succinct as it is delicious, you will want to hit play again the second it ends. Thinking about psychedelia’s history this century, both the Dandy Warhols and the Brian Jonestown Massacre have failed to make a statement as succinct as this in the last decade. Perhaps take a lesson from Phase Zero? Less is more.

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