martedì 17 novembre 2009

The Delgados "Domestiques"

Decisamente diversi i Delgados di questo esordio rispetto a quelli che produrranno dischi magnificamente eleganti nelcorso della loro carriera, qui siamo invece su un pop lo fi che si muove su coordinate Pavement/Pixies, con un gusto scozzese che non guasta mai. Impegnato anche sul fronte della propria casa discografica (che pubblica anche questo lavoro, ovviamente), che vantava tra le proprie fila anche paladini come i Bis, il gruppo divenne uno dei favoriti del grande John Peel, che li volle spesso nel proprio programma! Giustamente direi! (1996 Chemikal Underground)

"Tempered; Not Tamed" off The Delgados' 1997 debut album, Domestiques, begins with a French-language shoutout to Chemikal Underground Records. The band wasn't just promoting the label that their core songwriting duo, Emma Pollock and Alun Woodward, started in the early 90s; they were also giving props to the then-nascent Scottish scene, which included Chemikal signees Arab Strap, Bis, and Mogwai, and which peaked during the latter part of that decade. Of the acts on Chemikal Underground, The Delgados weren't always the most popular or critically acclaimed-- in fact, it wasn't until the turn of the current decade that they rose from the ranks with their Dave Fridmann-produced albums, The Great Eastern and Hate-- but The Delgados were always able to compete with any of the bands they signed and promoted.
It seems odd to compare these early songs to the band's more recent work, as they could belong to another band entirely. Despite the presence of Pollack and Woodward's familiar vocals, the approach and the sound are completely different: Instead of the well-polished cacophony of their last two albums, Domestiques has a much rawer, looser sound, almost punk in the songs' straightforward structures and simple energy. But the album contains the seeds of its successors. Woodward's acoustic meditations on "One More Question" and "Smaller Mammals" prefigure Peloton, while tracks like "Strathcona Slung" and "Akumulator" showcase the same kind of singalong, hoist-your-pint choruses the band has since perfected.
Like fellow Brits like Mojave 3, The Delgados alternate male and female vocals, occasionally playing them off each other. But it wasn't always this way: Domestiques is undeniably Pollock's album. The songs that prominently feature her vocals, such as "Big Business in Europe" and "Sucrose", are by far the record's best and most dynamic. Woodward, on the other hand, shows an inclination for meandering structures and half-developed ideas, and the concentration of his songs toward the end of Domestiques makes for a disappointing anticlimax.
Domestiques makes a fine point of origin for the three albums and handful of singles that followed it, but it's more than just a curio for fans: At its best, the album exposes the roots of a scene that produced one generation of bands and influenced another, and showcases a young band trying to claim its own territory in both music and business. Still, its flaws reveal they had a long road ahead of them before they'd finally arrive. (Stephen M. Deusner -

I Delgados sono scozzesi e appartengono alla stessa generazione di popstar folk di Glasgow quali Arab Strap e Belle And Sebastian. Piuttosto che limitarsi a seguire la banale scuola pop britannica, che si estende senza grossi cambiamenti dai Beatles agli Smiths, i Delgados ebbero il coraggio di tentare la via della sperimentazione. Il primo singolo Monica Webster (febbraio 1995), l'EP Lazarwalker (Radar, 1995) e il secondo singolo Cincentre (1996) ricordano una versione lo-fi dell'obliquo hard-rock dei Pixies. La somiglianza con i Pixies continua nelle migliori tracce di Domestiques (Chemikal Underground, 1997): Under Canvas Under Wraps e Big Business In Europe, mentre le piu' orecchiabili Sucrose, Tempered Not Tamed e Akumulator rivelano un potenziale commerciale.
Pavement e Velocity Girl sono fonte di ispirazione per il lo-fi dissonante che prende il controllo dei brani maggiormente creativi: Leaning On A Cane, un duetto tra i due cantanti sospinto da linee di violoncello, e One More Questions, immerso in tintinnii di xilofono. (Piero Scaruffi -

- Under Canvas Under Wraps
- Leaning on a Cane
- Strathcona Slung
- Tempered, Not Tamed
- One More Question
- Big Business in Europe
- Falling and Landing
- Akumulator
- Sucrose
- Pinky
- Friendly Conventions
- Smaller Mammals
- 4th Channel
- D'Estus Morte


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