In rock, and really any pop genre, most of the concept pieces that I review as a critic tend to begin with a drive rather than a specific theme, and in this regard I would say that the new EP On the Day That You Come To by Del Vertigo fits the framework I’m used to. Where this record dares to be different is the substance of what Del Vertigo is presenting us with, and using his one-of-a-kind drive he gets across to us a feeling of mortality that I can’t say I’ve encountered anywhere else in his scene lately.
The rock elements in the title track and sluggish “The Fall” had me enraptured the first time I listened to On the Day That You Come To, but they don’t take away from the intricacies within the compositional style here at all. On the contrary, I think we can get a lot out of the juxtaposed detail and decadence within these two single-worthy songs alone, and in some ways, there’s something to learn about the ambitiousness of this project just when studying how Del Vertigo goes about putting these tracks’ best moments underneath a microscope.
I don’t think there’s any listening to “Obsidian Hills” without acknowledging the influence that the anti-folk movement has had on this artist, especially in terms of how the post-hipster singer/songwriters have been blurring the line between rock and the avant-garde in the past few years. We’re not quite listening to Howard James Kenny or Patton Thomas here, but the notion of noisy spoken word exposition isn’t removed from the storytelling in any of these songs – the opposite, truth be told. He might not have to get there completely, but Del Vertigo teases a desire to strip away all remaining conventionality from his sound here (and I’m curious to find out what that might produce).
Even the chaotic underpinnings of “In Dreams” and “Theres a Glimmer in the Thicket” have a deliberate feel to them, and had I not known better I would have assumed that they were the result of freeform jam sessions rather than rehearsed, pre-composed tracks that were meant to segue us from “Obsidian Hills” into the far less structured “The Fall.” If there’s a way to be discordant and controlled at the same time, this player has found it, and I would challenge anyone who hears this material to disagree.
It’s still only May, but I think there’s a case to be made for this record being among the most thoughtful extended plays you’re going to hear before the year 2022 has come to a conclusion. On the Day That You Come To is such a thorough effort that feels indebted to the alternative rock gods as well as those who started the story of contemporary avant-pop, and while I think there’s still a considerable amount of ground that Del Vertigo can cover with this project in the future, I can’t argue with the success he’s found in this most recent studio offering.