Words: Elaine Buckley
You Can Make Sound was very much a "difficult second album" for Delorentos, surviving a near-split in its making, as a potential record deal crashed and burned beyond their control. Thankfully, they stuck together to continue their ride on the unpredictable rollercoaster that is the music industry – and the album went on to garner much acclaim and radio airplay thanks to a string of catchy singles, with brilliant 'S.E.C.R.E.T' at the forefront. You Can Make Sound was a good album, of that there is no denying – but as enjoyable as it was (and still is), it just seemed like they were holding something back.
Enter Little Sparks. Perhaps what is most intriguing about the Dublin foursome's latest offering is how they have let their audience in on its gestation – slow-burning anticipation has been the key, and it has worked a treat. Taking advantage of some down-time on their Spanish tour last summer, Delorentos took to the streets of Madrid to record an acoustic version of a new song called 'Bullet in a Gun' and uploaded it to YouTube - and the result was really something quite special. Fast forward six months to the Little Sparks Magazine EP – a 40-page colour magazine collated and edited by the band, with an accompanying CD featuring four of the new songs they'd recorded with Mercury prize-winning producer Rob Kirwan during the album sessions. The songs impressed from first listen - in particular lead track 'Did We Ever Really Try'? – and the magazine was a truly innovative move on behalf of the band, giving an interesting insight into their creative process, and those who inspire them. An acoustic tour accompanied the release, Delorentos delighting audiences with an array of new instruments from mandolins to melodicas to showcase the songs from the full instalment of Little Sparks in their raw form, leaving them eagerly awaiting the finished product.
It has been worth the wait. Musically, vocally, and in particular lyrically, Little Sparks is the sound of a band rejuvenated and at the top of their game. Opening with an impressive double-act of afore-mentioned 'Did We Ever Really Try?' and 'Bullet in a Gun', it's engaging right from the start. Perhaps the biggest problem Delorentos will encounter with this album is choosing the forthcoming singles – spoiled for choice with 'Care For', 'Right To Know', 'Give It Up Now', and title track 'Little Sparks', all indie-pop gems which seem destined for the airwaves. On the flip-side, the albums more tender moments too are a triumph – the acoustic guitar-backed refrains of 'Waited For You So Long' tug at the heartstrings, the gradual build of 'Swimmer' is enthralling, and 'The Stream' almost sounds like a song that might've been a hit 50 years ago (in a good way!) It's difficult to pick a standout, but 'Pace Yourself' signifies everything that is great about Delorentos on this album – encompassing their trademark catchy hooks, guitar riffs and driving rhythm section whilst embracing the new with confidence and conviction.
There is a tendency to always yearn for and seek out the next big thing; the great white hope, with a debut single or EP that will set the Irish music scene on fire. And this is, of course, very important – it's what makes Ireland such a great place to be as a fan of music; diverse talent and creativity is in plentiful supply, and should be constantly celebrated. But amidst the eagerness for the new, we mustn't lose sight of the acts we already know and love… and Little Sparks is not only an album which is Delorentos' best work to date, but one of the finest Irish releases of recent times.