You know, I’ve never quite understood the trope of your immediate elders having terrible music taste. There’s an old episode of The Simpsons where Homer is carpooling the kids and their pals (shout-out to Milhouse). He is playing the slapping Mississippi Queen, before being interrupted by Bart declaring, “You have the worst, lamest taste in music ever”. Maybe I’m lucky. My father got me into punk, my mother into singer-songwriters, and my grandad loves Johnny Cash. That is why the Luxembourg-based Francis Of Delirium is a fascinating project. The duo has an age gap of thirty years, which results in a melding of two generations of rock and is displayed brilliantly on their latest release, All Change. The EP is centred around rumination and of allowing negative thoughts to consume you, all the while surrounded by incredibly fresh indie-rock.
The first track, Broken, is a haunting start. A spooky guitar melody repeats and echoes around your head, before being muddied by feedback, while the drums cement the song’s message of an inability to change if you are broken and lost. As well as expertly setting up the EP’s theme, the slick production offers a vision of what is to come; guitar-driven, minimalistic soundscapes of indie-rock, coupled with Jana Bahrich’s mature words.
The vocals are thrust into the centre stage on the second track, Ashamed. Incredibly emotive, there is a weariness to Bahrich’s deliver that plays into the themes. That’s not to say her voice lacks any power and prowess. It’s an utter delight to listen to. This song is more driven and focused, with distorted palm mutes and swinging drums. A smattering of headbanging hits are interjected regularly and with a fantastic guitar breakdown; it’ll satisfy any riff-hungry listener.
There’s plenty of hooks and catchy motifs to boot on this release, no more so than Karen. Sounding like ’90s alt-rock grunge, a heavy barrage of drums is met with a fantastic chug of fuzz. The verse is restrained, which gives the exquisite and memorable chorus emphasis, with instrumentation running wild and vocals tastefully wailing a phrase that will spin round your head a few times. The ending is straight out of a Sonic Youth textbook; a lonely guitar line stumbles on, while a wall of voices makes concentrating impossible and destroys the mental state of the listener.
Circles stands out because it departs from the established DIY sound and moves towards a more “college rock” vibe, eclipsing the previous tracks with its size. A subtle beginning of luscious acoustic guitar and vocals, it quickly evolves into a steady rock ballad, before Chris Hewitt’s phenomenally layered and triumphant foundations allow Bahrich’s vocals to soar and demonstrate her stunning range. Winding down, the song powers on with defiance to not bend to your mental will.
Closing the EP, Quit Fucking Around is a wake-up call to take action and break the rumination cycle, which serves as a culmination of everything gone before and showcases the best of what Francis Of Delirium has to offer. A mini “best of” for sure.
All Change is a sensational effort. A masterclass in DIY indie-rock, Francis Of Delirium have taken the strife of mental anguish and turned it into full-blown art. The charming instrumentation and gorgeous vocals paint a picture of relatable struggles that suggest if we preserve and focus, we can beat our demons. A mythology that rings true for this easily distracted reviewer – “Quit fucking around”.