Elway - Delusions (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Delusions (2011)

Red Scare

One could be forgiven for believing that Elway's Delusions was the product of a Chicago band. The album was recorded there with Matt Allison, famed for his work with Chicago bands like Alkaline Trio and the Lawrence Arms, and those two bands are obvious influences on the band's sound. Lyrically, however, Delusions is unmistakably Coloradan. The group's hometown of Fort Collins, as well as Denver and even the Western Slope, all receive shoutouts in one song or another. As a resident of the state for the last 17 years, this gives me a personal connection to the album that I don't get from my favorite Chicago, Florida or Jersey-based bands.

After easing into things with "3/4 Eleanor", the first half of the record is mainly composed of high-speed punk rock tracks, the best of which are the bouncy, Menzingers-esque first single "Passing Days", the faith-bashing "San Mateo" and "Song for Eric Solomon to Sing", a criticism of the current punk scene that climaxes with some of the best "whoa"s you'll hear in a punk song this year.

Generally speaking, the album's second half is a much more mid-tempo affair, and contains some of its strongest melodies–"The Tired Old Whore's Bedside Book" being one of a few standouts. Some of the lyrics come off a little clichéd ("I find myself defeated on a barstool, cheap whiskey tastes like piss when you're drinking all alone"), but they come off honest, rather than forced. The band isn't breaking any new ground musically, either, but Tom Browne's melodic vocals help the group stand out from the gruff pop-punk pack, and give them a strong identity. The rest of the group are no slouches themselves in the vocal department, either. The three-part harmony at the end of "Aphorisms" is proof.

The band has included three re-recorded songs from their days as 10-4 Eleanor ("Whispers in a Shot Glass", "Kristina's Last Song" and "It's Alive!", to be precise), and they don't differ much from their ...Too Bad... counterparts, but Matt Allison working his magic allows them to come through crisper and clearer than before. These will be a treat for listeners who've followed the band since the 10-4 Eleanor days, but are strong enough songs to stand on their own and add to the album as a whole.

Elway have released a fresh-sounding record in a genre that's becoming overcrowded and stale. Their strong sense of melody is what sets them apart and makes this album a worthy purchase. They wear their influences on their sleeves, but they are very clearly their own band, and they've come a long way. Give Delusions a spin.