They doon git nae respect

Scottish rockers The Delgados have mostly escaped fame

Keri Carlson

The Delgados are too often forgotten.

Whenever the Scottish music scene is mentioned, bands such as Belle and Sebastian, Mogwai, Arab Strap and now Franz Ferdinand steal all the attention. Even though influential BBC DJ John Peel declared the Delgados “truly one of the greatest bands in the world,” the 10-year-old group of Scots seems doomed to remain a secret among critics, record store employees and the British.

Thousands of bands fit the record-geek-only fan base, and for understandable reasons. The bands are too unconventional. The Delgados however, are just as good, better even than popular bands on alternative radio such as Travis, Coldplay and recent R.E.M. They have a similar sophisticated pop sound as these bands but they make their songs grander. Where the others’ music sits in a grey middle, varying only slightly, the Delgados take their music’s emotion to the extreme, with glistening keyboards or sorrowful strings.

The group’s previous 2002 album “Hate” focused mainly on darkness and sadness. “Universal Audio” (the band’s fifth album) ditches the string arrangements of their past and creates a flourishing sound of fuzzy guitars and sprinkled keyboards. The rainy-day Brit-pop of their music remains; but rather than be dreary, it gleefully jumps into puddles.

What particularly makes the new album more joyful is the emphasis on the voices of singers Alun Woodward and Emma Pollock. The male-female intertwining makes the songs full and the melodies jump to the forefront.

Tracks like “Everybody Come Down” burst into festive choruses which highlight the united tone of the record. Though “Universal Audio” is much more cheery than “Hate,” it avoids being too sugary. “Keep On Breathing,” is not, as the title might suggest, motivational schlock. Instead, it portrays life as simply something we have to live through, neither good nor bad.

The Delgados have created yet another exquisite pop album. But this just might have to be our little secret.