The Delgados

The Brits with the hits

Radiohead gets more press, but the best band in England is actually the Delgados. Not only have they made five terrific albums, but they began the Chemikal Underground label, leading a Scottish pop explosion with releases by Mogwai, Bis, Arab Strap, and Aerogramme. While they began as something of a noisy pop outfit, their rich boy/girl harmonies and sterling pop sensibilities have always been in full effect. With their third album, The Great Eastern, the Delgados graduated to rich symphonic pop in the vein of Belle & Sebastian, but with more rock vigor. David Fridmann (the Flaming Lips, Sparklehorse) not only turned it into a masterpiece of grace and beauty, but produced their next album, Hate. Everything on the previous album leaps to another level, led by songs that delve deeply into the darkness of human experience, such as the Beatles-biting "All You Need Is Hate," and "Child Killers." Lush and gorgeous with a dark inner core, it is something of a clarion call to indifference.

"You'll have these things where people will sing, ÔEverything is all right,' ÔEverything is going to be okay,' and I despise that," says singer/guitarist Alun Woodward. "You have to work at happiness -- it doesn't just fall on your lap."

For the Delgados' new album, Universal Audio, they dial back the orchestral effects. Woodward complains that listening back to Hate, he couldn't find his guitar parts, and so the group "wanted to sort of take the things we learned about dynamics and music and the emotion of different voices or instrumentation and apply that to what we can do singing and playing guitar." The result is a more straightforwardly pop-sounding album with a good bit of dynamic heft, and some of the prettiest melodies this side of the Beatles.

 
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