Self-titled albums can sometimes feel narcissistic, as if nothing stands for the band better than its own name. In the case of Delta Spirit’s latest album, nothing suits it better because this feels like a self-defining album. The band switched out guitar player Sean Walker for Will McLaren, took on the help of producer Chris Coady, who has worked with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, TV On The Radio, Beach House and the Smith Westerns, gathered its instruments for a retreat/recording session at the converted 1896 church Dreamland in Woodstock and produced a more concrete, rock-leaning sound.
Opener “Empty House” pours out sped-up guitar riffs and deep-bellied vocals. “Tear It Up” vibrates the air of California with a high-pitched surf-rock guitar solo and trashcan percussion. Lead vocalist and guitarist Matt Vasquez’s breakup is met with acceptance and love on single “California,” where he comes to terms with a love that is not reciprocal: “All of the feelings I know you never felt/And all of the simple words you never said/I want you to keep them like a secret to yourself/They’re not for me.” “California” ushers in a new song structure for Delta Spirit, as this one has no lyrically chorus, beyond a recurring oo section, which makes it feel like it’s shedding the filler.
The breakup theme makes its way through the rest of the album, especially in “Otherside,” where Vasquez seems to waffle with the idea of not being ready to break free and with self-doubt: “Well I can’t be honest with myself/No, I wouldn’t believe a word I say.” However strong a folk presence resides on the band’s older albums, in particular the debut I Think I’ve Found It EP from 2006, Delta Spirit channels a more classic rock sound; the Led Zeppelin-like bassline on “Tellin’ The Mind” is met with pounding drums and racing guitars that run parallel to Vasquez’s raw, throaty vocal. “Yamaha” closes out the Moleskine breakup diary with piano swipes and a promise from Vasquez: “Certain things in life I cannot take/When I’m away, I hope you know I care.”