"I'm on the mezzanine floor, never been here before...but I'll get to heaven," sings Martin Smith on the opening track of the long-anticipated Mezzamorphis, the band's third collection of all-new songs.
While Martin readily admits that this is an album exploring musical territories which the band has never visited before, the problem is that most listeners have been here before. Delirious may have abandoned the obvious U2 references on past albums, but they've traded it in for an almost note for note impression of Radiohead-gone-Christian. As far as the imitation goes, they've got the symphonic and melodious parts of Radiohead down pat. There are even places where vocalist Martin Smith does his very best Thom Yorke inflections and falsetto to an absolute tee. Bravo! Now, won't it be refreshing to hear what the "real" Delirious actually sounds like?
Sadly, we never really get that chance. The song "Follow" even sounds like a rip-off another Delirious song, "All I Want Is You", which, granted, is sort of a rip-off of U2's song "All I Want Is You" in the first place, but either way it's starting to sound as if this band has run out of ideas. Perhaps that's why the disc closes with a wild remix version of their previous hit "Deeper" from the King Of Fools album? The sad thing is, it's the most exciting song on the album.
When it comes to writing worship songs for a new generation, however, the band really shines. Perhaps this is their true calling in life? At any rate, the songs "Kiss Your Feet," "Jesus Blood," and "Beautiful Sun" will probably be some of the first to show up in mid-week Gen X worship services across the fruited plain. As far as rockers go, the songs "Bliss," "See the Star," and "Metamorphis" will probably heat up the modern rock charts for the remainder of the millennium.
Even with all of these weaknesses, the band has certainly endeared itself to hundreds of thousands of fans in this country, (about 250,000 to be exact), so it's nearly a sure-fire mega-selling album we're criticizing here. Most real fans of this band won't really care that there's nothing new under the jewel box lid. They're just going to be grateful for more songs from the band whose publicity claims them to be "the future of worship music."
Mezzamorphis is a great album for the ravenous fan of Delirous brand of alterna-worship, but it's just not a great album in itself.
Keith Giles (4/14/99)
Crashing into the UK album charts at the much-lower-than-expected position of 25, Mezzamorphis should assure most listeners that delirious? are still very much faith-inspired in their songwriting. The theme of heaven dominates from the very start.
Musically, the sound is much richer than on the disappointingly dry King of Fools, and the fuller soundscape moves away from the strong U2 feel, towards a sound which shows a clear Radiohead influence as well as more of the symphonic feel that has from time to time reared its head in the British pop music of the past two years. The Radiohead influences don't come through directly on a regular basis, but there are often little passages which have a touch of Jonny Greenwood's guitar tone, such as the guitar break on "It's O.K." or the verses of "Pale Reflection," and Martin Smith's vocals do from time to time bear a Thom Yorke-esque inflection.
The band's key mistake with this album seems to have been the decision to produce it themselves. Without the steadying hand of an external producer the sounds are often over the top or labored and still don't have the spark one would expect from a band that so many people are excited about. This seems to be a recurring problem on delirious? albums, and the band really need to hook up with a talented producer who will pull from them stronger and more original arrangements. "Gravity," for example, has an infectious chorus and could probably be a strong single if it were rearranged, but as it is the sound shifts from one idea to another far too quickly to really establish the song.
"Bliss," due to be the second single from the album, is probably the standout for me. The guitar is heavily processed and sounds very space-age, and the vibe is suitably consistent and driving to give the song an edge which many of the others lack.
The US version of this release contains two tracks not on the UK release, "Jesus' Blood," and a remix of "Deeper," but regardless of track listing the committed fans worldwide will snap this album up without a second thought. It would be nice if next time delirious? could hook up with a good producer and show us what they can really do.
James Stewart (4/19/99)
For weeks Iíd been reading rave reports of Delirious?'s latest offering. I expected a dramatic change from their previous work, something that would absolutely blow me away. It didnít. To tell you the truth, I was a bit disappointed but the change that Iíd read all the reports about wasnít as radical as I expected. Take King of Fools, add a few distorted guitars and synths, and you get Mezzamporphis. Put in a few rock songs, aka "Promise"--you pretty much got the picture. Now donít get me wrong: this is not a bad album. In fact, as I give it a few more spins in the stereo I can honestly say it gets better as you go along. Perhaps my disappointment is partly the fault of other reviewers expectations. Delirious? displays some real talent on this album. I do recommend you have a listen to it at your local Christian book store and decide for yourself. The impression I get is that Delirious? is trying to attract new fans while holding on to old ones. This is a hard thing to do but I have to commend their efforts, but it seems that theyíve run out of ideas by the end of the album. The American version ends with a remix of their hit single "Deeper." Donít worry, youíre not missing out on much. "Deeper 99," as it is called, is nowhere near as good as the original. I could go on and on about this album, noting its ups-and-downs, but Iím afraid we donít have enough space to do that. The only thing I can say is: donít let all the hype get your expectations up too high, but also donít trash it. Itís a fine album produced by some very talented young fellas.
Eric Daams 10/15/99