Delay - Plain Language (Cover Artwork)


Plain Language (2009)


Most records that I truly love I just don't get on the first listen. This can usually be attributed to some hidden depth that won't reveal itself on the first pass and, as it has happened for years with so many great records, it is a truism I have accepted for myself. Conversely, most albums I think are great the first time through tend to lose replay value quickly. Because of this, I wasn't that concerned when my first impression of Delay's newest full-length (and followup to the awesome Don't Laugh) was less than satisfying.

I guess was expecting another Don't Laugh--an album full of lo-fi, fun sing-alongs about growing up in the Midwest. Instead, on Plain Language, Delay pulls back from the in-your-face exuberance of that previous record and without any less energy manages to create something that is poignant, filled with fully realized melodies, and lyrics that are even more painfully relatable.

In addition, there are some surprising changes in sound: The production is much improved--not in a glossy way, but the guitars are much more up-front in the mix and everything is very clear and compressed to have a loud, raucous sound. It's a more polished sound, but still showcases Delay's raw and youthful energy.

Possibly because I grew up in the same region of the country, I've always found Delay's lyrics highly reflective of my own adolescent experiences, but with the enhanced sophistication in their songwriting, some of these songs hit me in ways I haven't experienced in years. It's not easy to adequately capture the feelings of your high school years, but it's near impossible to capture the uneasiness of your mid-20s, that in-between period where your care-free days are over, but the overwhelming stench of real adult life is breathing down your neck. That said, through songs mostly dealing with romantic relationships, I think Delay has really nailed how this period of life feels.

Single line excerpts won't really do these songs justice, but take "Move Here," whose lyrics ponder the uncertainty of a progressing relationship before finally culminating at the end: "The only thing worse than a heart that turns to stone is a heart that never knows, so I don't don't care--I think you should just move here. I didn't say I wasn't scared. We'll worry about our worst fears if they ever come."

In my review for Don't Laugh, I called Delay the Midwest's best kept secret and, for better or worse, this is still true as they continue to stay active way below the radar. However, with a rumored familial relationship with ‘Org favorites the Sidekicks, most readers of this site that decide to give this record a chance (it might take two if you're like me) will be rewarded.

The vinyl version of this album was released by Salinas Records.