By Ed Power
It's been a while — nearly four years — since we heard from heart-on-sleeve rockers Delorentos.
The Dublin group had taken an underdog journey from obscurity straight to the heart of their mainstream, with their 2012 album Little Sparks winning the Choice Music Prize and 2014 follow-up Night Becomes Light heralding their arrival as a major label force.
Their profile was boosted further with the use of the ballad ‘Petardu’ on an TV ad for a well-known bank (the weepie inspired by guitarist Kieran McGuinness’ search for his birth mother).
But then they disappeared from view and it was unclear how when, or if, they would be back. Now we have the answer with the quartet returning with an excellent fifth LP, True Surrender.
It’s a different Delorentos — looser than before but somehow more serious too. That’s a reflection, says singer Rónán Yourell of the peculiar circumstances in which True Surrender was assembled.
Some albums come together effortlessly. Others require you to dig deep and then to dig again. This was very much in the second category.
“Our first sessions were at a studio in Spain. We had a staggered release with Night Becomes Light, which meant touring it a lot. First it came out in Ireland, then in Spain and Germany and South America. We were on the road with it a long time.”
Too long, arguably. They took a break before reconvening in Spain for the new sessions. However, it rapidly became clear that they needed further time to think about what sort of album they wanted to make. The demos they put together felt written on autopilot.
You are reminded of the scene in the Metallica documentary Some Kind of Monster in which the band members complain that their new songs are too “stock” — too much like what people have already heard.
“There maybe wasn’t the depth, the reflection,” says Yourell. “You don’t sit down and think, ‘well the album must be about this or it has to have loads of glockenspiel”. But you need some time to reflect, to get off the merry go round for a while.”
So off the merry-go-found they got. The first batch of tracks was shelved and, after an appropriate time away, they reconvened, with a new producer at a studio in Donegal d1 about as from sun-kissed Spain as was possible.
Even here, things didn’t initially click. They had to put their heads down and strive hard and force themselves to get along.
“We wrote the songs in the studio and in some ways that was even more stressful. There was a great energy but you’d have arguments. Ultimately, though, it was a really healthy and positive experience.”
Older and hopefully a bit wiser, they return to a rock scene in rude health — but one where they are somewhat trepidatious about their relevance.
“There’s so much great music at the moment — you wonder will people still have the appetite.”
They surely fret in vain. Two toe-in-water shows at Whelan’s in Dublin sold out and they’re since announced a date at the Olympia.
Meanwhile, they continue to win new fans on the Continent and Latin America — placing them in that exclusive club of Irish bands to achieve a meaningful breakthrough abroad.
With mortgages, wives and children, these things matter more than ever.
“Spain in the last number of years has gone really well — they’ve really taken us to their hearts,” says Yourell.
“And we’ve gone over to Mexico in the last couple of years. The last album was the first where we went to Germany and Belgium and the Netherlands. To an extent, it’s like starting over again – but it’s really exciting.”
True Surrender is out now. Delorentos play Indiependence Mitchelstown, August 4; Olympia, Dublin November 10.