Ah, Scotland. You’ve coughed up some good shit in this young century. Franz Ferdinand is awesome. Frightened Rabbit is awesome. I’ll forgive you for We Were Promised Jetpacks (I’m not sure “Jetpacks” should be one word, but that’s how the band spells it). And, of course, you gave us the Delgados.
I’ve said it before and I’ll keep on saying it – the Delgados were the most underrated band of my life so far. Most bands don’t make a single album as good as their five albums were and, lest we forget, one of the Delgados’ albums was Hate, one of the best albums ever made. Ever. But alas, the Delgados are no more. Emma Pollock made a great solo album and is reportedly working on another one (and perhaps a tour of the U.S.? Or maybe just a city where I can see her? I’ll buy however many pints it takes to persuade you, Emma Pollock). And now Pollock’s fellow Delgados vocalist, Alun Woodward, has released a solo album as Lord Cut-Glass.
His Lordship’s debut is great. Not gonna mince words because there are even more important topics to cover here. Woodward is a great singer and his album is driven by acoustic guitars, brushed drums (played by Paul Savage, who was the drummer for the Delgados. And he’s married to Emma Pollock. But more on this later) and well-placed horn and string arrangments. He possess a gift for lyrical snark that few songwriters can match – the lead-off track is called “Even Jesus Couldn’t Love You,” for crying out loud (he taunts whoever he aimed this song at – dog help ’em – with the line, “Did your pony not wuv you/ reject you and buck you?” and later delivers the knock out blow, “There is absolutely nothing to you”). Even the love songs are dark and vulnerable in a way that only Woodward can be – “A Pulse” gives us the line “I’m nothing at all without love” and follows it with “I need to be loved just by something/ a rat or a dog/ a pimp or a frog” but manages to end on the sweet sentiment “You’re inconsistent and wild/ but I’m glad you’re my map.” If We Were Promised Jetpacks could do stuff like that, I wouldn’t despise them. Well, maybe I wouldn’t despise them. Overall, Lord Cut-Glass is a beautiful record and I love it more every time I listen to it.
So it might seem odd when I say that, despite what I’ve written above, I hope Alun Woodward never makes another solo album. I hope – more than I hope that she plays a show in the U.S. – that Emma Pollock abandons work on her new album. Why? Because it’s time for the Delgados to get back together.
As good as Lord Cut-Glass is and as good as Pollock’s Watch the Fireworks was, there’s little point in continuing down these solo avenues. The Delgados broke up because bassist Stewart Henderson didn’t want to keeping putting time and energy into something that didn’t get the respect that he felt it deserved. That’s an understandable sentiment and I give the other three Delgados props for not wanting to carry on without him. But what about the fans, of which there are many? Speaking for myself, I now spend an inordinate amount of my time scanning the internet for any proof that Emma Pollock or Alun Woodward will release something new and hoping against hope that they’re still making music so that I can support it. In my wildest dreams, they team up and tour Los Angeles together for a solid week, hanging out and drinking with me. How little it would take for Alun Woodward and Emma Pollock to make my wildest dreams come true!
Scottish bands are all the rage right now and the Delgados are vastly superior to all of them; why not saddle up one more time, get Dave Fridmann to produce something, and take your rightful place at the top of the Scottish rock heap? Paul Savage played on Emma Pollock’s album and on the Lord Cut-Glass record. All four Delgados still run Chemikal Underground Records together – which means they have a label ready and waiting to put out their comeback album. I know reunion albums are dangerous territory but Dinosaur Jr. put out their (indie blasphemy in 3, 2, 1..) best album after getting back together a couple years ago (Farm’s not bad either) and you guys are (indie blasphemy part 2 in 3, 2, 1…) better than they are. Look, if Stewart Henderson isn’t on board for this thing, I’ll fucking play bass for you. Hit me up with an email and I’ll learn your songs this weekend. All of them. I wouldn’t ask for a reunion and then refuse to do anything to help it along. I’m not that kind of guy.
Why am I so adamant about my desire – nay, the absolute necessity – of a Delgados reunion? Because there aren’t bands around that can do what the Delgados did. They made dark music but were never emo. They made beautiful music but were never pretentious. They had hard-won hope but never lost their sense of humor (their trademark, really. On the mostly upbeat, cheer-up-pal tune “Coming in from the Cold,” Pollock can only encourage you so much: “No one’s telling you you’re not to blame”). Beyond that, Pollock and Woodward were an unsurpassed vocal team (Pitchfork correctly points out that Woodward is joined on Lord Cut-Glass by a female vocalist who sounds a helluva lot like Emma Pollock, which I take as further proof that the Delgados are just kidding themselves with all this solo project nonsense). In fact, here’s a pro-tip: if you’re in a band, get at least one male vocalist and one female vocalist. It just sounds awesome and, for those of you who think that makes it too Peter, Paul, and Mary (rest in peace, Mary Travers), I suggest you listen to X’s Los Angeles album and watch your assumptions as they are rent asunder and scattered like so much presumptive confetti.
The Delgados were an amazing band and I’m sure, if they come back now, we will all love them as hard as we can. I know I will. In lieu of a reunion, Delgados fans and fans of good music alike would do well to pick up Lord Cut-Glass. And all the Delgados albums.