The Argentinian writer and Nobel laureate Jorge Luis Borges once described the Basques as “a people who throughout history have done little else than milk cows.” Although this dismissive comment was from a character narrating a tale rather than the author’s own, it could nevertheless be said that Basques have not really been at the center of things. This includes popular music, with many mentally pegging their musical contribution somewhere between accordion-driven mountain folk and the derivative lower orders of the Eurovision song contest.
But listening to Delorean, four young Basques relocated to the throbbing cultural epicenter of Barcelona, environment seems to be everything. Instead of the sound of cowbells or the Pyrenean equivalent of the Alpine horn, we get a deft reworking of retro dance beats — in this case the Balearic beat of the 1980s — sampled and mixed with the basic rock format of live guitars, drums and vocals to create an eclectic, driving dance-rock sound on a par with the latest effusions from New York or Manchester, be it Yeasayer, MGMT or Delphic.
The four original members formed the group — taking the name from the time-traveling car in the film “Back to the Future” — in 2000, while they were still teenage members of local Basque punk and hardcore bands. The move to Barcelona plus a new guitarist in 2007 enabled them to progressively explore their softer, dancier side, employing fat-bottomed beats, shimmering synths and sampled female voices, while keeping enough of a rock dynamic to give their music forward propulsion.
The first two albums failed to make a dent outside Spain, but a string of remixes for the likes of The xx and Franz Ferdinand plus an appearance at the 2007 South by Southwest industry showcase in Texas saw the band gain wider exposure, leading to positive coverage of last year’s “Ayrton Senna” EP. If anything their third album, “Subiza,” takes things even further from their hardcore punk roots with its sun-kissed, euphoric vibe but expect a bit more grit from the live show.