By Jake Ebdale
Released May 31st, 2013 - Universal
The mighty Shapeshifter, now a bonafide headlining act in New Zealand andEurope, have returned with a brazen and beautiful piece of work in the form of ‘Delta'. A ‘Shifter release is always greatly anticipated but their fifth LP has the most to prove, especially since four of their biggest singles were released in the lead up (Monarch, Diamond Trade, Gravity and In Colour). Whilst this technique sustains the hype before the album drops, it also stops Delta from being a truly enamouring experience, as those four singles are also the most instantly appealing tracks on the album. Still, I can't complain - this is quality.
Delta balances the bands nuance for dramatic pop and experimentation in equal portions. ‘Monarch', a single from early 2012, is still the best track here. It is an effective and startling call to arms, but to follow it with‘Gravity' is proof as to why Shapeshifter are so damn popular across the board. Gravity is the band defined: familiar tempo, a great chorus, tension and release. It's what they do best. ‘Taste of Memory' and ‘Give up the Ghost' are blended together to provide a ‘Jekyll and Hyde' suite of the band's sound - one an airy dance piece, the other an epic metal excursion. This is repeated with ‘Arcadia' and ‘Stadia', the latter sure to be a live favourite, a menacing circus of synth and P. Diggss wailings. There are a couple of less effective tracks like‘Shadow Boxer' which sounds like a throwaway from ‘Riddim Wise' and ‘Little Flame' doesn't really get anywhere. But then we are treated to two great closers. ‘Endless' is an epic creeper, a little cousin of their career best ‘One', and ‘141' is a big, emotion filled step into their instrumental drum and bass roots with new found musical prowess.
Delta is Shapeshifter's most listenable, accessible album. It may not be their best (I'll hand that to 2006's groundbreaking ‘Soulstice'), but it treads new ground in their interesting, exciting trajectory. And just wait until you hear this stuff live.
4 / 5