Indie-Pop Goes Instrumental and Unpredictable 

Delicate Steve
(Luaka Bop)

The story of Delicate Steve is a rarity of spontaneous, creative combustion, and the result, Wondervisions, marks our first foray into the headspace of the one man responsible for it. Steve Marion wrote most of the songs for the album in less than a month, tucked away in an unassuming suburb of New Jersey. Speaking to Steve at last year's CMJ, he had trouble finding the right words to explain exactly how it all happened. It was the month he became "inspired," he said—the month he decided to fully commit himself to his music.

Lucky for Steve, words aren't even necessary on Wondervisions. The first track off the album, "Welcome - Begin," is an instrumental call to arms. Steve's electric guitar plays both narrator and spirit guide to this strange, wonderful and nearly lyric-less album, yawning, stretching, and accompanied by a light drumroll before launching into something wholly weird and uplifting. Frenetic strumming, shakers and aggravated, syncopated picking keep this singular personality occupied through 12 tracks. And best of all, Steve's a good host, never abusing his eclecticism—he gently takes our hand and introduces us to our foreign and spacey surroundings.

Three "Source" intervals on the album serve more as organizing concepts than song. "Connection," "Construction" and "Bridge" are Wondervisions' cues to turn on, tune in. One minute we're entertaining a wholesome, acoustic fingerpicking session with what could be James Taylor on "Attitude/Gratitude" before a "Source (Construction)" blasts us off to Mars for the album's title-track—roughly three minutes of what sounds like a vision trip with an especially jovial Captain Kirk. By "Don't Get Stuck (Proud Elephants)" we're familiar enough with Steve's musical vocabulary for him to show us what he can really do. The track is a tribal initiation into Steve's imagination: his guitar hollers proudly over droning synth and shakers, and we find ourselves dabbing at our tear ducts. The beauty, the splendor, the strangeness! By the final track, "Flyin' High," Steve's world begins to feel like our own, and we never want to leave. We just want to keep on listening, over and over again.


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