Like many American music enthusiasts, I was sired on the saccharine sounds of America’s band: The Beach Boys. A bevy of beautiful compositions and the group’s signature harmonies have managed to ensnare audiences for decades, making them a centerpiece of the American Music landscape since their inception.
For fans of: The Beach Boys, The Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, Blur, The Shins
The group’s influence is often cited by bands with an emphasis on vocal orchestration, but rarely have I encountered a group that manages to embody the Boy’s tonal quality while taking on an entirely different trajectory, musically speaking. Taking that into account, my first exposure to Finland’s Delay Trees left an indelible imprint on my mind, because they embodied the Carl Wilson-esque, “Feel Flows,” psychedelic sound of the Beach Boys within the indie-rock genre with songs like, “Only the Stars,” “Decide,” and, “HML.”
The group’s 2012 release, Doze, is an ethereal and atmospheric escape from pop-conventionality, with drifting, moody compositions freely flowing from the start of the album to its completion. Basslines lazily wander over phased-out, echoing and delayed guitars, with lofty vocal harmonies adrift throughout each piece. This group crafts absorbing and infectious tunes that don’t embody the sense of urgency present in today’s three-minute pop-songs. Their melodies are allowed to develop, ascending with the smooth and steady brilliance of a sunrise, yet lingering throughout the album with the gentle luminescence of fireflies against the night sky.
Like British rockers Blur, or American Indie All-Stars The Shins, Delay Trees has a unique sound and delivery that helps to establish them against the backdrop of other indie-rock acts. They manage to vacillate sonically from moments of gritty and distorted White Stripes-esque pomp to the drizzling, liquidy psychedelic faire of The Pink Floyd Sound (yes, I went Barrett with it). The diversity of their compositions runs the gauntlet from pop anthems to improvisational jams, all heavily rooted in an atmosphere of radiant space-rock.
From the chiming, arpeggiated introduction of, “Decide,” through the album’s hook-laden apex, “Future,” through the closing churn of, “My Thoughts,” Delay Trees takes a cue from folk-rockers Fleet Foxes’ eponymous album and expertly blend their tunes together in a fluid fashion, making the album slide by like the scenery on a cross-country drive. The record has a relaxed vibe, but their stellar songcraft similarly evokes the mood of The Shins’ Wincing the Night Away.
The band labels their genre as dreamy, and it is most assuredly that. “Pause,” the album’s fifth track, begins with synth pads, a rolling drum beat and shimmering electric strums while the lyric asks the listener to, “Breathe in the atmosphere…” Like the Floyd tune, “Breathe,” the echoing vocals ricocheting around your headphones set your body adrift as though floating on air. Music that manages this effect without the listener ingesting chemicals is expert at inducing a mood, and Delay Trees masterfully manages it.
Doze is the perfect album to score an evening to, moving seamless beneath the undercurrent of abrasive, attention-seeking contemporary pop to establish a soothing melodic stronghold in your record collection. The timelessness of the tracks, the gripping melodies and stirring motion of the compositions will have you coming back to this album again and again. It is an instant classic, and I cannot endorse it highly enough.