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Domestiques , 6/10
Peloton , 6/10
The Great Eastern , 7/10
Hate , 6.5/10
Universal Audio (2004) , 6/10

The Delgados are from Scotland and belong to the same generation of Glasgowian folk-popsters as Arab Strap and Belle And Sebastian. Rather than simply pursuing the British school of trivial pop that stretches, largely unchanged, from the Beatles to the Smiths, the Delgados dared to experiment. The first single, Monica Webster (february 1995), the EP Lazarwalker (Radar, 1995) and second single Cincentre (1996) recalled a lo-fi version of the Pixies' oblique hard rock. The Pixies similarity remained in the best tracks out of Domestiques (Chemikal Underground, 1997): Under Canvas Under Wraps, Big Business In Europe, while the catchier Sucrose, Tempered Not Tamed and Akumulator reveal commercial potential.
Pavement and Velocity Girl inspired the dissonant lo-fi sound that took over in the most creative tracks: Leaning On A Cane, a duet between the two singers that is propelled by cello lines, and One More Questions, that swims in xylophone tinklings.

Peloton (Chemikal Underground, 1999) introduced baroque arrangements and signaled the metamorphosis to come. The singles Everything Goes Around The Water and Pull The Wires From The Wall were far more refined than anything they had done before. If Repeat Failure captured the limelight with its catchy refrain, it was the subtle songwriting of songs such as Blackpool, Actress and Weaker Argument Defeats The Stronger that set them apart.

The transformation from noise-pop to sumptuous orchestral pop was complete on The Great Eastern (Chemikal Underground, 2000). The new sound buried Alun Woodward's and Emma Pollock's unexceptional vocals under a heavy coating of sound (No Danger). Their vocal harmonies were nonetheless used to mesmerizing effects in Thirteen Guiding Principles. The band's complex, artificial, technicolor structures compared favorably with Mercury Rev's. This was hardly the same band that cut Domestiques.

Hate (Mantra, 2002), produced by Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Sparklehorse, Mercury Rev), was even more lushly orchestral. The production is a little too smooth and bright, but this album is the natural next step in the Delgados' evolution towards a highly chromatic psychedelic sound. What is still missing is the emotions. Lush sound and oneiric atmosphere suffocate the angelic lullabies of The Light Before We Land or Woke From Dreaming. With the exception of the anthemic Coming in from the Cold, songs are content to float in the ether of their dense arrangements. The album's centerpiece is the negative philosophy of All You Need Is Hate (a surreal revisitation of the Beatles' original), The Drowning Years (the most bombastic song on the album) and Child Killers (a seven-minute existential torture), which justifies the band's success.

Universal Audio (Chemikal Underground, 2004) marked a retreat to power-pop (the Kinks-Squeeze axis, not the Beatles-Oasis hell). As it is often the case with power-pop, one listens to the first few songs (Everybody Come Down, I Fought the Angels) and then starts yawning, no matter how polite and diligent the rest is. For such an accomplished set of ditties, it is incredibly difficult to listen through till the end of the album. Maybe it should have been a four-song EP instead of a full-length album. Whatever the cause, the effect is to send the Delgados back to the drawing board, and back to their beginnings.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Luca Battistini)

I Delgados sono scozzesi e appartengono alla stessa generazione di popstar folk di Glasgow quali Arab Strap e Belle And Sebastian. Piuttosto che limitarsi a seguire la banale scuola pop britannica, che si estende senza grossi cambiamenti dai Beatles agli Smiths, i Delgados ebbero il coraggio di tentare la via della sperimentazione. Il primo singolo Monica Webster (febbraio 1995), l'EP Lazarwalker (Radar, 1995) e il secondo singolo Cincentre (1996) ricordano una versione lo-fi dell'obliquo hard-rock dei Pixies. La somiglianza con i Pixies continua nelle migliori tracce di Domestiques (Chemikal Underground, 1997): Under Canvas Under Wraps e Big Business In Europe, mentre le piu' orecchiabili Sucrose, Tempered Not Tamed e Akumulator rivelano un potenziale commerciale.
Pavement e Velocity Girl sono fonte di ispirazione per il lo-fi dissonante che prende il controllo dei brani maggiormente creativi: Leaning On A Cane, un duetto tra i due cantanti sospinto da linee di violoncello, e One More Questions, immerso in tintinnii di xilofono.

Peloton (Chemikal Underground, 1999) introdusse arrangiamenti barocchi. I singoli Everything Goes Around The Water e Pull The Wires From The Wall sono molto piu' raffinati di qualunque cosa i Delgados avessero composto in precedenza. Se Repeat Failure cattura le luci della ribalta con il suo ritornello orecchiabile, e' il sottile songwriting di canzoni quali Actress e Weaker Argument Defeats The Stronger che li distingue davvero.

The Great Eastern (Chemikal Underground, 2000) continua a seppellire le voci ordinarie di Alun Woodward e Emma Pollock sotto una pesante patina di suono (No Danger). Ciononostante, sono le loro armonie vocali a generare effetti ipnotizzanti in Thirteen Guiding Principles. Le strutture della band (complesse, artefatte, in technicolor) reggono positivamente il confronto con quelle dei Mercury Rev's. Si stenta a credere che questa sia la stessa band che ha inciso Domestiques.

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