Music

The Delgados: Hate

Adam Dlugacz

The Delgados

Hate

Label: Beggars Banquet
US Release Date: 2003-01-21
UK Release Date: 2002-10-14
Amazon
iTunes

When Tchaikovsky decided to end the "1812 Overture" with a crescendo of cannons, who knew it would influence followers until today? After all, as good as bands like the Smashing Pumpkins were at playing the loud/soft dynamic with a pounding rhythm section and screaming guitars, it's pretty tough to top exploding cannons to jolt an audience. The whole key to the style is the method in which you set the tone or break it. If you create a beautifully soothing piece, you can employ almost any instrument to break it. Likewise, if you are an expert at mayhem, you can use nothing more than silence to set up your cacophony. Over the past six or seven years, bands like Mogwai have become experts at taking users through a journey of peaks and valleys, swapping serenity for violence in an instance. In 2000, another Scottish band, the Delgados, seemed set to join them as equals with the release of their stellar third album, The Great Eastern. As if created in a laboratory, the album expertly blended Mogwai's metal leanings with the pop/folk sensibilities of Belle and Sebastian; not to mention establishing the Delgados as possibly the most exciting band on the esteemed Chemikal Underground label.

The Delgados' secret weapon comes in the diminutive form of singer Emma Pollack. Her voice fluctuates from sprite-like playfulness to celestial crooning and serves as an excellent guiding point for the band's music. Combined with the everyman voice of Alun Woodward, they created a textbook course on contrast. At their best, Pollack's sweetness made the band's forays into sonic explosions, comprised of equal parts rock and roll and classical composition, a breathtaking experience. As of last year, The Great Eastern was setting the British press on fire, with John Peel and Melody Maker being some of the notables to proclaim the Delgados the next greatest thing.

Hate proves to be a fine, if somewhat unremarkable, follow up. Despite the album's name and track titles like "Child Killers", "All You Need Is Hate", and "The Drowning Years", Hate bears witness to a more subdued band. The opener, "The Light Before We Land", is a pleasant affair that runs through some of the same fields as the Flaming Lips most recently have. The band seems less interested in rocking than in crafting hummable melodies. On "All You Need Is Hate", Alun Woodward playfully intones "Hate is all around", in the same manner as school kids would sing a popular playground ode. Despite the band's sarcastic condemnation of the hatred in the world, the music is so catchy that the morals barely register. Even "Child Killers", a horribly morbid song, is compromised by the music that is in some ways too enjoyable. The band's best moments are when they have the listener on the edge, unsure of what's going to come next. On "Woke from Dreaming", a piano is used to recreate the gathering of storm clouds that threaten to blot out the band. It is that dark side that the Delgados should have let shine through more on this album.

On Hate, it seems as if the Delgados are all to happy to trade cannons for a more choral stirring, similar to Beethoven's rousing "Ode to Joy", though not as beautiful. If you're looking for explosions, they're not on this album. The Great Eastern was successful because at its core, it never forgot to rock. On Hate, the Delgados seem to have forgotten that. At the same time, they've grown as songwriters and at times Hate is worthy of comparisons to the Beatles. If the Delgados can somehow put together what they did then with what they're doing now, they might create music that lasts as long as some of Tchaikovsky's did.

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less
9
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

Keep reading... Show less
9
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image