he Delgados are fucking miserable. It’s impossible to tell if they’re depressed or sweet little darlings on any one of their records (with the exception of their debut, which was just a mess of distorted throwaway pop). When they seem to be all about sweetness and love, they end up turning into something completely dark and melancholic. Finally, they have realised the truth about themselves and labeled a record, Hate, with songs titled “Child Killers”. Now we can understand them a little more, right? But, of course, it’s not that simple.
Hate should be a straightforward affair of songs that sound like each member’s pet just died a horrific death, but it’s more complex than that. For one thing, there is a photo of unprecedented love on the album’s cover, with a young child standing with his mother’s arms wrapped around him. Man, this is sick. Then inside, there are enlarged and bolded lyrics from each song. Some of the highlights include: “When things that were once beautiful/Are bland”, “We will kill if we need to” and “Eyes of black and lips of grey”. And finally, it is learned that this album was created after the band provided the soundtrack for an infamous artist renowned for his paintings of serial killers, circus freaks, blood lust and altogether violence.
After a successful third album, The Great Eastern, the band had some personal issues to deal with, which led to a lot of what Hate is about. The record is very innocent on the surface, but it’s in the lyrics (again) of Alun Woodward and Emma Pollack that make it cold and dark, even though their vocals seem to make it all sound safe. They proclaim that “hate is all you need”, on the wonderful Beatles spin-off, “All You Need Is Hate”. A cynic’s anthem of sorts, the song moves like a child frolicking through the long grass on a summer’s day, and then, the anvil is dropped. “Hate is everywhere, inside your mother’s heart and you will find it there” is the most damaging of all, yet it’s impossible not to snicker over the sheer cynicism of it all. Hearing words like “We kicked and punched and stabbed to death/And everyone applauded my fine actions I was overcome”, are nice and cathartic; a shameful thing to admit. Thankfully someone with a black sense of humor has stepped up to reveal some true feelings.
As you can see, the more you get involved, the more you begin to agree with The Delgados. This life sucks, so why not be miserable and make music that is confusingly both bleak and delightful.
Reviewed by: Cam Lindsay
Reviewed on: 2003-09-01