Release Date: Sep 28, 2004
Record label: Chemikal Underground
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
The fifth album by Glaswegians the Delgados is an odd beast, billed both as a "positive" record, and unapologetically pop - neither of which it really is. It's perhaps lighter than predecessor Hate, an impressive if not always entirely successful record, that seethes with epic discontent, but these sophisticated, evocative songs certainly aren't pop music, however forceful their choruses. What Universal Audio represents most certainly is the sound of four people playing together in a band, without the lavish orchestrations and over-production that occasionally overpowered the songs on Hate.
The Delgados refer to Universal Audio as their "long-awaited 'pop' album," and while the description is apt, it's their penchant for atmospheric, industrial town melancholia that ultimately wins out. In stark contrast to 2002's bombastic Dave Fridmann-produced Hate, Audio's sleek opener, "I Fought the Angels," begins with just a guitar and Emma Pollock's winsome vocals before launching into a tight Bossanova-era Pixies groove. Alun Woodward, always the reluctant optimist, follows with "Is That All I Came For?," a tale filled with doubt wrapped in a golden Beach Boys wonton -- a trick he honed to perfection on Hate's sunny and sarcastic title track -- but it's Pollock's instantly catchy and retro (as in 1992) "Everybody Come Down" that embodies the group's metamorphosis from brooding orchestral pop experimentalists into hook-driven purveyors of sunny road-trip modern rock.