Wednesday, November 25, 1998

History Repeating

Posted By on Wed, Nov 25, 1998 at 12:00 AM

Following its debut album and a series of no-longer-available singles, the Delgados -- the Scottish masterminds behind chemikal underground records, home of Mogwai and Arab Strap -- quietly step into a sonic spotlight with Peloton. It's a thoughtful, lightly lush album that is touched by the formidable production hand of Tony Doogan -- whose credits include the most recent Mojave 3, Hefner and Belle & Sebastian albums. Art-school vocals and shoegazey looseness aside, Peloton represents yet another UK release that has been heavily influenced by American indie greats such as Sonic Youth and Pavement.

The Delgados, however, move beyond simply swirly-cool, distorted guitar sounds and enter a stage of experimentalism that emphasizes interesting instrumentation. The interspersing of flute and clarinet throughout the album adds a trippy folk element and underlines an upbeat groove that is barely tempered by sometimes driving, Smiths- or My Bloody Valentine-like guitar choruses. "The Actress" is a perfect example of the diversity this album delivers. It demonstrates the ebb and flow of casual, sing-song vocals, jangly guitar breakdowns and crescendo-crashing guitar choruses that pause for the briefest moment to lead you into a mellow groove, only to sweep back into a dramatic finish. (Think of a low-key Ben Lee meeting grandiose rockers Catatonia in a Scottish pub.) With "Clarinet," the Delgados step into the domain of Mojave 3, but do it better. "Russian Orthodox" pays homage to the inescapable heritage of Kevin Shields' sonic wizardry. All of these obvious influences, however, do lend a play-by-number structure to the songs, but not enough to dismiss the shifting underground influence the Delgados represent.


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