Read a review of Del Bel’s music and chances are the word “haunting” or any of its synonyms is bound to pop up. And that’s perfectly fine. Their last two records proved that they're masters of the downtempo; brilliant with conjuring melancholy and discomfort, unafraid of flirting with the wicked.
The problem, though, is it becomes easy to forget that Del Bel does actually have range; all you have to do is listen to a few select tracks (“Stirring Bones” for instance) from Oneiric. So it’s a good thing the slew of singles they’ve released from their upcoming third LP, III, has so far shown that they haven’t become servile to what they’re good at.
“Do What the Bass Says” marked the biggest departure from their pop-noir sound as a synth-laden tune with a reggae-esque thump, while “Crookshank” and “Only Breathing” dives deep into trip-hop.
With "If I Was a Fool," Del Bel delivers their slickest work to date. And "slick" is the adjective you'd least expect to use to describe a band whose acclaim is built on slow simmers. Yet here they are, armed with an addictive groove brought on by persistent snare beats accented by a hissing hi-hat, and a bassline strutting with confidence.
There's more to "If I Was a Fool" than just the rhythm section, though. Del Bel's strength has always been their ability to write luring arrangements, and here, their palette of provocatively bent notes, valiant vibratos from a thick E-string, and bellowing horns resembles a soundtrack off a throwback espionage film. Del Bel has never sounded so sly, and that's something we can all definitely get used to.