Record Review - 3 November 10 2004

Album and song titles can be shifty things, open to interpretation. Glaswegian quartet the Delgados love misleading, like Pied Pipers with beguiling melodies and mangled intentions. Universal Audio, despite the name, is the Delgados’ least thematic record. This titular tease shouldn’t come as a surprise, as the Delgados’ last release, 2002’s Hate, was a sweeping effort toward which you could point no such emotion.

On Universal, the titles — featuring such words as “fought,” “come undone,” “action” and “consumes” — suggest a taut, aggressive intent. But Audio is not overly bombastic. In fact, where Hate was tightly woven together by grandiose strings and an intricate, studio sheen, Audio feels sometimes jangly, sometimes jaunty, often discontented, but always dynamic.

Songs like “Is This All that I Came For?” “Bits of Bone” and “Get Action!” which feature the mantralike croon of Alun Woodward, suggest the mellifluous, sun-dappled yearning folk of Mojave 3. On the other hand, the gently lilting tracks showcasing Emma Pollock (the best of which are “Come Undone” and “The City Consumes Us”) chime and coo hauntingly. Overall, Audio is lean but not stark, and infused with poignant harmony. It adds yet another dimension to the Delgados’ sound.

The Delgados play Vinyl Fri., Nov. 12, 9 p.m. $10-$12.