Like 2011’s Wondervisions, Positive Force is a creation straight out of Steve Marion’s parents’ basement in rural New Jersey. But this music doesn’t sound like it came from any windowless depths; Delicate Steve’s latest is a happy force whose intention is to “get people all excited and uplifted.” Steve puts that plan to work with opening cut “Ramona Reborn.” His electric guitar slides and wails throughout, and the soothing track comes to a chilling close as it slowly fades away, preparing you for the light and bubbly “Wally Wilder.” With its meandering riffs and splashes of Afro-pop, the track is unforgettably fun.
“Two Lovers” changes the mood. It’s smooth, sensual and completely alluring. While it’s the first track on the album to include vocals, they are used like any other instrument Marion plays. Sung in unison, the repetitive “two lovers” lyrics never feel out of place or take the spotlight off of Marion’s prized guitar. Definitely a standout on the album, “Two Lovers” washes over you and catches you in its current.
Next on the album is “Big Time Receiver,” which is a lot to digest in one sitting. Among the many layers of sound and static, you find yourself following the ascending guitar lead, and again the vocals take the back seat. The track builds until it resolves with a pretty piano melody, but the clarity doesn’t last long as the fuzzy fizz song “Touch” actually howls for attention. Only about a 60 seconds long, “Touch”’s mystical yet alarming synths and loud cries from Marion, backed by Christian Peslak and Mickey Sanchez from the Delicate Steve live band, are only listenable for a short while.
Once past that weird minute, Positive Force picks up and keeps the feel-good vibes flowing. While the title track and “Redeemer” are lively and jam band-esque, “Love” impresses with its Beach Boys-quality falsetto. The first single off of the 11-piece offering, “Afria Talks To You,” is a lively and celebratory anthem that you can really sing along to, though it has no vocals.
A song that can be used behind any poignant moment in a movie, “Luna” brings Positive Force to a fitting and satisfying close. From its cricket chirps to wailing guitar, it satisfies Delicate Steve’s initial mission statement: Positive Force will uplift you.