The Delgados were another discovery I made at Reading 2000. I don’t have any particular memories of drunken tent-mates influencing my experience of their performance like I do with Clearlake. I do, however, remember hearing them and thinking – for a moment – they were Drugstore.
They weren’t. Drugstore may have been delightfully quirky in their way – and may have produced an excellent tune in the form of their duet with Thom Yorke (‘El President’). But The Delgados have and always will have the upper hand on Drugstore, chiefly because – well – they were so much better, weren’t they.
The Delgados are everything I love about indie/alt-rock/call it what you will at its best. Their music varies between jaggedy-ness and the most forlorn sounding ballads. They have (or had – must talk of them [regrettably] in the past tense) a rawness both to their sound and their soul.
But what stands out about this band is their resolute clinging to hope.
Half Man Half Biscuit may have once explained that ‘The light at the end of the tunnel is the light of an oncoming train’, but The Delgados, even at their gloomiest always seemed to cling to whatever little hope was available – and there’s a gorgeous poignancy to that.
That fundamental optimism is at the heart of ‘The Light Before we Land’. It may be that “things that once were beautiful are bland”, but Emma Pollock’s vocal yearns for that beauty to return – and even believes it is possible. It is when, not if “I feel like I can feel once again” that changes will come and life will be better.
I love, love, love The Delgados. I could happily spend days listening to nothing else. Utterly, utterly wonderful.
And at that point, I will stop gushing (listen to The Delgados now!).