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splendid > reviews > 3/17/2003
The Delgados
The Delgados
Hate
Beggars Banquet


Format Reviewed: CD

Soundclip: "If This Is A Plan"

Buy me now
Reviewing Hate almost seems pointless. The Delgados' last album, the Mercury Prize-nominated The Great Eastern, was nothing short of exceptional -- so it was unlikely that the Scottish band's talent would suddenly desert them as they were composing its follow-up. And it hasn't. Every track on Hate surpasses the high standards set by its predecessor. Go buy it right now. That is all.

Unfortunately, I can't see my editor allowing me to get away with a statement like that without backing it up (Hey, he's finally learning! -- Ed.). Still, I know I'm not the first to laud the Delgados as a superlative talent to whom words don't seem to apply; in writing about The Great Eastern for this site, Irving Bellemead said something that could just as easily apply to Hate: "This is a very beautiful thing. I wish I could just upload the whole CD for you to listen to and be done with this review so that I could get back to these songs."

"Beautiful" comes closest to approximating exactly the treat that's in store for anyone who listens to Hate. Every song here defies fluff-free description, save for calling them "pop" in the grandest sense of the word. Emma Pollock and Alun Woodward's voices are soft without being dull, and sweet without being too saccharine. While this is hardly a concrete statement, you need only hear songs like "Coalman" or "All You Need Is Hate" to understand it. The music is orchestral, full of strings and choirs, yet the entire affair is understated. Listen to "The Light Before We Land" or "Woke From Dreaming"; they float on the perceptual edge of elegance, as if the band wanted you to "soak" in them for a few minutes before abruptly noticing just how casually brilliant they are. It's almost enough to make you hate the Delgados...but admiration inevitably wins the day.

Attempting to verbalize the intangible factors that make music worth hearing becomes increasingly difficult in direct proportion to the quality of that music. This is why it's so difficult to capture in words what it's like to hear Vivaldi or Beethoven, and so easy to break down every little flaw of, say, Limp Bizkit. Simply describing Hate as "shimmeringly beautiful orchestral pop" doesn't really do it justice; you won't understand the vehemence of my endorsement 'til you hear the record yourself. So, as I suggested earlier, you should go and buy it right now.



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