By Dr. Abner Mality
The Memorials are one of the most unpredictable outfits in rock n' roll right now. They've labelled themselves "Afro-punk" but that doesn't even really begin to cover the swirling cauldron that their music has become. Their debut album was also pretty off the hook, but "Delirium", in fitting with its title, is more so. Yet it is also more refined in some ways.
Now basically down to a duo accompanied by talented session musicians, the band restricts itself from NOTHING on "Delirium". The odd beginning track "Dreams" is off putting with its heavy reliance on synth breakbeats, spacy sounds and rapped vocals from singer Viveca Hawkins. Suffice to say, it's not my cup of tea at all, yet it has a big, almost ethereal sound. One thing's for sure...Viveca Hawkins can SING. She has a soulful, multi-faceted voice that avoids the blatant "oversouling" that so many nightmare American Idol karaoke contestants beat into the ground. She is never less than compelling. With second track "Fluorescents", the heaviness of The Memorials' kicks in. Ex Mars Volta man Thomas Pridgen is a whiz on the guitar and cuts loose with both brutal riffs and screaming leads throughout the course of this song, which also includes saxophone and gospel-like female vocals.
You can hear just about anything at any time during the course of this album. There's way-out power electronics on "I'm So Anti-Me", jazz fusion improvisation on the title track, thrash on "Daiseys" and hardcore soul/funk on "Heavyweight". But never are those sounds just by themselves...they're coupled with other musical styles that come out of nowhere. The result is loose, unpredictable, progressive and sometimes jarring. Last cut "Mr. Entitled" is way, way too long at over eleven minutes and just seems like an unfocused mess. But excepting that and "Dreams", the album never fails to be exciting and mercurial and featuring some outstanding talent.