60 ALBUMS @ 60 : #39


The Great Eastern – The Delgados (2000)

Want to read another historical spectacular fail from the NME?  Here’s how they reviewed this one:-

After two LPs (‘Domestiques’ and ‘Peloton’) named after bicycling terminology, The Delgados have named their third album after a Glasgow dosshouse. Its stern facades keep watch over the inner sleeve, and the inhabitants’ troubled spirits pass like a shiver through the album’s darker tracks.

The group’s ambitions are clearly high. It was recorded in upstate New York by friend of the glockenspiel Dave Fridmann. But while ‘The Great Eastern’ undoubtedly moves, even as it impresses, the album’s grandeur – all swooping cellos, dulcimers, clarinets, flugelhorns, vibraphones – only lays bare The Delgados‘ limitations as unorthodox pop athletes.

You would have imagined that by now, Glasgow’s most comprehensively strung would have learned to let shy tunes like ‘Accused Of Stealing’ unfold of their own accord. Instead, every graceful shoot here is instantly fenced off by woodwind, then locked in a great cat’s cradle of fussy arrangements. Their cause isn’t helped by Emma Pollock and Alun Woodward‘s two-note Swanney whistle melodies, whose very basic charms are no match for the rabid symphonics queuing up to overwhelm them.

With all the flavours on the emotional trolley, The Delgados still can’t get past bittersweet. And for all their enthusiasm for music’s vast palette, their songs all come out in monochrome. Like the institution with which it shares its name, ‘The Great Eastern’ feels haunted by opportunities missed. 6/10

Dearie me.

I do get that music writers will be tasked with reviewing a record by a band or singer they don’t like, but the very least they could do is listen without prejudice.  I also reckon it’s quite cowardly to give The Great Eastern a pass mark when the prose makes it painfully obvious that the writer never wants to hear the album ever again.

The Delgados are (and it feels so good to be writing about them in the present tense again!!) the most important band ever to come out of Scotland, whose legacy is unparalleled.  Five enjoyable studio albums of which this is the masterpiece, and one that, as the live shows a few months back demonstrated, has aged quite spectacularly.

There really shouldn’t be anything else needing to be said.

mp3: The Delgados – Accused of Stealing

Memo to NME : How the fuck did you allow your writer to describe this as a ‘shy tune’.  And don’t get me started on the album allegedly laying bare The Delgados limitations……


6 thoughts on “60 ALBUMS @ 60 : #39

  1. I haven’t ever heard a Delgados song I didn’t like. From start to finish they owned a sense of achievement – now that ‘finish’ may have been presumptuous… new album, anyone?

    They are up there with the very best of worldwide, independent bands – and bands more generally.

  2. Barrowlands January 2023 consolidates your argument. NME? If it still existed as the ‘newsprint voice of alternative music’ it would be running a weekly feature on how to remove flecks of avocado from your freshly oiled beard.

  3. Also, that’s not how you spell swanee whistle.

    Probably not the main deficiency in the review, I admit.

  4. I reckon there might be in a series in this…
    “Terrible reviews of Brilliant albums” or
    “Gushing reviews of shite albums”.
    Nearly all of them will come from the NME. Then again I’ve written a fair few gushing reviews myself of albums that on reflection and with hindsight, were a bit rubbish.

  5. Holy Ho Ho Ho. How I love this album. I bought a copy for only a couple of quid because I loved the sleeve (still do, that is one of the great album covers for my money) and it blew my little cotton socks off how emotionally rousing the record was. I’ve never really known anymore about them other than I love this album and they’re Scottish.

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