Five-piece experimental group Alex Delivery are recent signings to idiosyncratic US indie Jagjaguwar, home to such rock re-definers as Black Mountain, Besnard Lakes and Okkervil River. Alex Delivery represent the more outré tendencies of the label, and their debut album, Star Destroyer packs a disconcerting punch.
The album opens with "Komad," a simple piece of post-rock that's kept skilfully see-sawing by insistent electronics and minimal, hard-hitting drums. As the 10-minute "Komad" progresses, Alex Delivery reveals a way with airborne motorik jams, carrying the angular beginning sequence into an instrumental passage that mixes a gentle Harmonia-style rhythm with keyboard stabs that recall New Order or Japan. Its repetitive force is reminiscent of labelmates Oneida, but with an added sweetness supplied by Marika Kandelaki's wordless vocals. Alex Delivery are clearly inspired by the repetition and simplicity of '70s German bands like Neu!, Can, Faust and so on, but, as with many modern US indie bands, they fuzz up the edges of the Krautrock template with more explicit lyricism and looser, more personal playing.
Throughout the album, soft male/female vocals collide with trebly percussion and delayed guitar in a kind of psychedelic ballad mode before spinning off into giddy space-rock. This noise-buffered romanticism defines the middle section of the album, creating an atmosphere that's both intimate and disorientating. There are surprises too, like the seafaring waltz passages in "Scotty" and the organic charms of "Sheath-Wet," a delicate, fairylike take on Faust's proto-industrial klang.
Final track "Vesna" changes tack altogether, recalling the anthemic wooziness of Mercury Rev or Flaming Lips, and, most of all, Smile-era Beach Boys. The gently vaudevillian melodies and distinct movements, not to mention the spacious, echoing percussion, add up to a song that's not unlike an early demo for the Beach Boys'"Cabin Essence," albeit one recorded in the early hours of the morning by a group still feeling their way around a studio.
It's hard, critically, to pin Alex Delivery down, such is the constantly shifting, charmingly investigational nature of their sound; but perhaps those seeking a more abstract, impressionistic Arcade Fire while retaining the latter band's giddy passion for emotive melody would do well to take a chance on these enigmatic Brooklynites.