Love with a passion called Hate
'Hate The Delgados' says the badge that tumbles from the envelope ahead of their new album. 'Hate The Delgados?' I ask myself. Impossible.
I know some people were disappointed by the last Delgados album (their third) The Great Eastern. I know that some found its increased use of orchestration and abstraction of sound frustrating, preferring the more angular guitar abrasions and traditional structures of their debut, Domestiques, or the more raggedly ravished textures of Peloton. Some said The Great Eastern sounded too polished, too smooth, and some placed the blame on producer Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev). Maybe they were right, maybe they were wrong. Me, I was more disappointed that it didn't have a cycling oriented title. But Hate The Delgados? Hardly.
Those who were disappointed with The Great Eastern are unlikely to be appeased by The Delgados fourth album, but that will be their loss, because in Hate The Delgados have made an album of rare riches.
It's a powerful title. A strong emotion. It's one that brings for me memories of times gone by when some would talk wildly about notions of Love and Hate, the two dueling sides of the same coin. So I remember reading wonderfully, crudely copied fanzine pages devoted to the notion, reflecting references from old man Weller when he was one of the young and ferocious, in the Start! days singing of loving with a passion called hate, and from there to the equally ferocious Alan McGee and his Biff Bang Pow! punkpopsters with the astounding 'Love and Hate' single on Creation, and.... and okay, so it somehow quickly became cliché to some ears, and the late '80s / early '90s essence of Love and Optimism that suffused Generation-E was great, and coming back to Creation, do you remember how good and uplifting The Sound Of Shoom's 'I Hate Hate' sounded? - but whatever. It's nevertheless still a notion that sticks in my head and my heart. Love with a passion called Hate. The Delgados know the score for sure; know all about the two sides of the one face, and offer us the shadow in order to see the illumination.
The Delgados give us Hate.
It's a fitting title too, in these times of media-fuelled paranoia and epidemics of mistrust; notions that The Delgados tap into implicitly through songs that shimmer with slightly off-kilter, out of focus observations, like photographs left out in the sun too long, their details just bleached beautifully into pale specters. They do it explicitly too, with the exquisitely mournful and piercing 'Child Killers', although here too the lyrics are elliptical; obtuse reflections rather than the kind of obvious event-referencing kind that just anchor art to precise moments instead of allowing freedom to sail into the oceans of timeless appeal and relevance. It's a question of interpretation.
So The Delgados have interpreted global, national, domestic emotional turmoil in their own inimitable way, making mildly psychedelic sounds that rotate around columns of darkness and sprinkle beads of mercury from outstretched boughs of jade. Just close your eyes and listen: it's a glorious sight.
The Delgados give us a gorgeously proportioned, measured and sparklingly complete album that reaches out from the darkness of the soul and soars. The Delgados give us Hate, and in so doing naturally give us Love. Open your ears and your hearts and let it all in.
© 2002 Alistair Fitchett
Download the Delgados Jukebox here and hear album tracks and view the video for 'Coming In From The Cold'