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coverpic flag Scotland - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 21 - 07/09/98

The Delgados
Chemikal Underground

Terminology first of all. The Delgados - oh yes, they got their name from Pedro Delgado, Spanish cyclist - named their first album Domestiques. These are the team riders in cycling races such as the Tour de France, forsaking success in their own right to promote the strongest of the team riders to greater things. So could this then be an analogy for their own situation at Chemikal Underground, where their first album was largely ignored, in comparison to what followed i.e. Arab Strap's first efforts and then Mogwai's recent arrival from nowhere? (Bear with me, I know where this is going). So, Peloton - that's the pack of riders which tail the leaders in a cycling race - the Delgados second album, and one which sees the band thrust into the limelight perhaps for the first time.

The lp starts off with the single Everything Goes Round The Water which appears to set the scene pretty well, then the Arcane Model, a ragged singalong chorus which is probably closest to anything on Domestique, and instantly hummable. In fact, this will be the next single, a wise choice if radio airplay is what they're after. It's there that things get more unpredictable, and multiple listens of the album are the order of the day. If there's one difference between this album and its predecessor, apart from the songwriting, which manages to be complex and experimental while still being a better listen, it's the use of cellos and woodwind. But not in an obvious way, like Britpop losers searching for some sort of sophistication in their dirge, but more as an experiment where they please themselves in this new direction. It's on tracks like Don't Stop, where a quiet beginning builds into a cacophony, that the Delgados show that they're not like the average group - the only surprise amongst all this is And So The Talking Stopped which actually sounds a bit like the 2 singles. Nothing wrong with that, of course, though any more of its ilk would have been disappointing. And again, Blackpool has that feel too it, until it all breaks down into a freeform morass and is much the better for that.

So all in all, something of a masterpiece from the plucky Scottish entrants to the race to the top of the charts. One problem, the title. I'd have called it 'Maillot Jaune' myself, as this effort puts the Delgados way in front of the also-rans.

Copyright © 1998 Stuart McHugh e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Delgados article/review: Nice'n'Sleazy, Glasgow, January 19th 1999.

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