THE DELGADOS with AEROGRAMME at Lee's Palace (529 Bloor West), Friday (April 4). $15. 416-870-8000.
When you sound huge, the only way forward is to get bigger. At least that's the path the Delgados have taken. In 2000, the Glasgow quartet released The Great Eastern, a massive, richly textured album that swaggered with orchestral pop grandeur. The Dave Fridmann-mixed disc was the highlight of the Delgados' career to that point and earned them rave reviews and a Mercury Prize nomination.
When it came time for a follow-up, though, the band simply aimed higher. Hate, the group's new album, is even larger-sounding than its predecessor, with orchestras, choirs and a general sense of opulence running through the entire record.
How can the Delgados top this? The one-larger pattern can't go on forever.
"Part of moving forward is getting bigger," whispers Delgados guitarist/vocalist Alun Woodward from Glasgow. "The danger is that you start thinking you have to outdo yourself, so you end up with 96 tracks of strings instead of 24. The temptation is to keep piling things on, and suddenly you end up with a Spirtualized record.
"The decision was made quite early on: if you're going to write with strings and choirs in mind, don't hold back. Don't use eight string parts -- go for the full fucking orchestra.
"Technology makes writing a record like this a lot easier. Although the sounds are crap when you're working in your house, you can sequence and write string tracks as you write the songs. The only thing you need is your imagination."
Hate contains some of the best work of the band's two songwriters, Woodward and Emma Pollock. Strip away the billowing strings and you can imagine the songs standing on their own. You can say that about every Dave Fridmann-engineered epic.
"We've actually done a lot of acoustic sessions and stripped these songs right down to the bone, and they work," Woodward agrees. "That comes down to how they're originally written. They're always written by one person who has to play them to other people, so that simplicity is always there."
If Hate doesn't blow up around the world, it won't be for lack of trying -- or timing. There's something to be said for releasing a single called All You Need Is Hate, with the lines "Hate is everywhere, look inside your heart and you will find it there" two weeks into a war with Iraq.
Woodward laughs off suggestions about the song being held up as a kind of anti-war anthem, but that hasn't kept the band from being tossed into the conflict's wake.
"The song was going to be reviewed on some show on British radio, and I had to write something about it," Woodward laughs. "I had written the lyrics and basic song a while ago, but we ended up working on the arrangements on September 11, 2001.
"In the press release, I mentioned that and said that on the eve of us going to war with Iraq all you need is hate. Because of that the BBC refused to play the song or read the release.
"Censorship isn't all bad, though. Fortunately, they're not playing Phil Collins's In The Air Tonight any more." email@example.com