DELAY: Circle Change: LP

I nearly dismissed this record. Delay’s 2009 LP, Plain Language, features a slew of plucky pop punk gems that are all personal favorites alongside The Max Levine Ensemble’s OK Smartypants. But I was taken aback by Circle Change’s gut-wrenching, mid-tempo tonal shift. The opener, “Explanation,” contemplates personal insecurities (“I need to trust my own guts again instead of getting fucking high”) with some of the heaviest guitar tones the band has ever committed to vinyl. Each subsequent song is methodical, plodding, and painfully honest (“I want to fuck without feeling gutted”) with ‘90s indie and emo influences intermingled. (I’m hearing some definite Superchunk and Silkworm vibes.) Although I initially felt disconnected, I listened again—and again. I decided to re-listen to an early LP, Don’t Laugh, which is scrappy, chorus-driven punk, then Rushing Ceremony for the very first time: That’s when it finally clicked. Like an estranged friend, I foolishly assumed that Delay would be identical to how I remembered them back in 2009. After some catching up, they are both the band I missed as well as a moodier, more introspective group that is equally as memorable, if not superior to their previous sound. They have peeled back the pop punk artifices, leaving something raw and vulnerable. Delay is a friend who has grown up with or without you. Highly recommended.

 –Sean Arenas (Salinas)