T.J. Simon's #11 album for 2003
First Appeared at The Music Box, June 2003, Volume 10, #6
Written by T.J. Simon
Hate, the latest release from Scotlandís The Delgados, is a disc with all the right parts in all the right places. Male and female vocalists? Check. Sweeping, orchestral arrangements? Check. Cynical, smirking lyrics? Check. Thundering percussion and gentle guitars? Check and check.
The centerpieces of The Delgados are Alun Woodward and Emma Pollock who alternate lead singer duties throughout Hateís 12 tracks (10 in Europe ó Americans supersize everything). As a result, each song is a fresh and exhilarating injection of pop goodness, giving Hate the feel of a well-planned mix tape without ever lacking the cohesiveness of a true album. The disc begins spectacularly with a multi-track choir on The Light Before We Land, which is followed by the cynical Beatles send-up All You Need Is Hate. The albumís lyrical themes are a bit obtuse and hard to follow, but the songs are so relentlessly atmospheric and catchy, you wonít care much about the underlying stories. Likewise, alternating between "boy" songs and "girl" songs keeps the disc from ever sounding repetitive or formulaic.
The Delgadosí secret weapon is producer Dave Fridmann (bass player for Mercury Rev), who reconstructs likable pop numbers into stereophonic skyscrapers of towering keyboards and studio-created symphonies. Heís a bit of a mad scientist who fuses together string sections, keyboards, guitars, percussion, melodies, and harmonies to form a beautiful Frankensteinís monster of sonic excess. When he produced The Soft Bulletin for The Flaming Lips, Fridmannís signature sound created a texture of spaced-out wistfulness over explosive drums and the acquired taste of Wayne Coyneís warbling vocals. On Hate, Fridmann has ample source material since Woodward and Pollock both have singing voices that are easy listening. Try this CD with headphones to hear the difference between good production and great production as the layered music playfully dances from one ear to the other and back again. From the up-tempo Coming in from the Cold to the waltz of Child Killers, every song on this sonic masterpiece is a catchy and alluring winner. Ĺ
Hate is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2003 The Music Box