Delgados | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Though the Delgados' 1997 debut, Domestiques, and to a lesser extent their follow-up, Peloton, benefited from a charming scrappiness, they've smoothed away the rough edges on their gorgeous third album, The Great Eastern (Beggars Banquet). The sound isn't more slick or commercial, though, just more proficient--working with producer Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev), the Glasgow quartet has developed a lush instrumental palette, placing a much greater emphasis on the strings and woodwinds of Peloton. And the mix gives their pretty, gentle pop songs an enthralling spaciousness: all the extra instruments fit neatly around the rhythmic core of guitars, bass, and drums, neither overwhelming them nor sounding like tepid afterthoughts; the accordion swells, vibe riffs, cello lines, and flute licks are essential to the songs' movement. While sometimes a single element--Emma Pollock's sweet vocals, a plaintively strummed guitar, ringing chimes--seems to exist in a separate universe for a moment, Paul Savage's drums stand out consistently, the different timbres of kick, snare, and cymbal placed at precise points in what feels like three-dimensional space, innately connected to the amplified rumble of the rest of the band yet perfectly distinct. Instead of piling up all those layers of instruments into a bombastic mess, the Delgados retain their British folk-rock sensibility, and the flood of sonic information contrasts nicely with the often delicate melodies. The band shares a certain wispiness with fellow Glaswegians like Belle & Sebastian, but comes off as neither precious nor tentative--in fact, one of the most striking things about The Great Eastern is how sure of themselves the Delgados sound. Cinerama, the current project of former Wedding Present singer David Gedge, opens this early show. Saturday, November 11, 7 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600.


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