Faded Seaside Glamour LP Revisited
If you were hanging around Southampton’s legendary music venues at the end of the 20th century, you would have found a great magazine called Venue stacked on the bars and often distressed by spilled beer. It was given out for free, generously funded by Victory FM and adverts from music shops, recording studios, and other related places. Within its pages were reviews, classifieds, and music listings.
From these listings, you would have been familiar with local scene mainstays, Corky. The band quickly gained fans with a sound likened to The Las and The Manics (who at the time had just moved from the Richie Edwards era into their smash Everything Must Go explosion).
Well, Corky had a reshuffle to become Idoru, with a lineup that featured Greg Gilbert on guitar, Aaron Gilbert on synths, Colin Fox on bass, and Rowly on drums. After Safety in Numbers, an EP released in 2001, the band switched the name to Delays and signed on with Rough Trade (who were early into their relaunch after their 1978-1991 initial run).
Delays’ Debut Album
The result of this little slice of history is Delays, and their debut album, Faded Seaside Glamour. An album that is the perfect union of guitar-based indie with crafted synth; a rich union of instruments that creates an orchestral feeling of shimmering wonder. We’ve revisited the album to celebrate the 2023 re-release on vinyl.
It hits you immediately as the synth steel drums of ‘Wanderlust’ get licked by a warm guitar crunch. Greg’s voice soars as the song develops with a distinctive rhythm. It’s a kind of hazy summer vibe that draws on psychedelic power pop from the sixties as much as the melodic guitar-band jangle from the nineties. On many records, this would be the one. The front-loader.
Not on this record, though.
The final note of ‘Wanderlust’ still echoes in your ears as the harmonies of ‘Nearer Than Heaven’ descend like a chorus of angels, except instead of wings it’s striped t-shirts, scarves, and leather jackets. The song is different in many respects from the opener, but what’s the same is that blending of instruments.
‘Long Time Coming’ takes up the rights with an outstanding melody and some vocal fry to punch the lyrics through. There’s a really interesting wave of sound throughout this song, aided by the drums and echoed in the backing vocals in the chorus. The instrumental section that builds to the final chorus brings the feels, even inanimate objects shiver when they hear this tune.
Things stay in this sonic zone for ‘Bedroom Scene’, a melancholic love song with a muted melody that’s all about communicating the story. There’s a great motif in the intro that remains beneath the verse, before a crunchy palm-muted build to the chorus. This emotional curve continues with ‘No Ending’, which is a stripped-down song that draws folk melody into the sound.
‘You Wear the Sun’ grows into being, building organically from a guitar and voice into a song that grows in richness. The song is thick and warm, and the sparky synth flickers in the breakdown around the two-thirds mark, remaining for the swooping spin of the reprise. Like it built from the intro, it deconstructs down to a single fading note at the end.
We then have ‘Hey Girl’, the top charting single from the album. The song hit the number three spot in the UK indie chart because it’s a shimmering pop beauty with a guitar hook right at the start, some neat work in the rhythm section, and a wonderful suite of vocals. This song is upbeat and filled with wonder.
The synth is the star in ‘Stay Where You Are’, with the drums adding a surprise twist when you hear the song the first time, locking in a beat behind where you expect it and causing the whole tune to transform. The verse is sultry, and the pre-chorus has artful scansion. The chorus itself has harmonies, but once again, they have a dark twist compared to the sunlit uplands of ‘Hey Girl’ or ‘Nearer Than Heaven’. I might be this song’s biggest fan.
‘There’s Water Here’ features just guitar and vocals, an almost religious-sounding ballad and in many ways a reprise of ‘Wanderlust’. The record builds gently from here, with ‘Satellites Lost’ providing a gentle uptick in instrumentation and a Hollies-esque chorus. The final note becomes the opening for the excellent ‘One Night Away’, a song that has a great guitar lick that surfaces between each line. If you’re the kind of band that can still be knocking out tunes like this at track eleven, it’s a fact that you’re special.
It ends with ‘On’, which loops around rather psychedelically, adding and removing layers in a heady celebration of harmony. It’s a great way to close an album. In my head, I have super-8 footage with lomo colouring of the band wearing bandanas and lolloping through the long grass. Your visions may differ!
And that’s the album. Quality from start to finish and something of a spiritual experience after almost two decades. Can you hear that knocking in your soul? Only if you listen.
Faded Seaside Glamour – The Inside Track
Before the band named the album, it was given a working title of Take Some Home With You, a reference to the band asking people to take flyers home with them after their shows. The record was almost named Our True Intent is All For Your Delight, a reference to Butlins that may have survived to some extent in the final name selection.
‘Wanderlust’ was the first song Aaron contributed to. He wasn’t in the band then, but Greg heard Aaron’s steel drum loop from his bedroom and started jamming along with it. The band refused permission for the song to be used by the Conservative Party as part of their election campaign.
The next thing I heard was this soaring falsetto floating across the loop… “Can you hear that knocking in your soul” I loved it. I still wasn’t part of the band, but it felt like something was about to happen…Aaron Gilbert
‘Nearer Than Heaven’ was originally written about the guilt baked into religion but became an anthem about finding the exceptional in each moment.
‘You Wear The Sun’ and ‘Bedroom Scene’ were originally intended to be b-sides, but they turned out so well that they ended up on the album.
Mark Radcliffe and Marc Riley (Mark and Lard) made ‘Hey Girl’ their single of the week, helping to propel it into the top 40.
Aaron Gilbert literally dreamed up many of the synth motifs on the record, waking up with ideas and capturing them in the dark hours. ‘Long Time Coming’ is based on a dream about a door.
Faded Seaside Glamour is re-issued on vinyl on 27th January 2023, on Rough Trade. Get the deluxe version with orange vinyl and additional artwork (pictured above) – you can thank me later.
Written by Fenton on