But even this was little preparation for the fully realized symphonic brilliance of 2000's The Great Eastern. With a helping hand from David Fridmann--fresh from work on the equally sumptuous Flaming Lips album, The Soft Bulletin--the band turns the orchestration up to 11 without smothering the songs. Their dreamy, gorgeous epics bubbled over listeners in a wash of instruments, while Emma Pollock's sweet, unaffected delivery cut through the sound like a siren. Guitarist-singer Alun Woodward's understated tenor shared vocal duties, and the music carried you away on a wave of brass, bells and swooshing strings. Hate followed in 2002 with a similarly grandiose sound--Fridmann again provided production help. But even more than the soaring pop-classicism that drenched the music in swoons and climaxes, the album succeeded because of its bleak undercurrent--tweaking the Beatles' optimism on "All You Need is Hate" and indulging in dark ballads such as "The Child Killers." The current tour includes a full orchestra. It brings The Delgados overflowing well of beauty and despair stateside.
The Delgados appear at the Cat's Cradle on Tuesday, April 22, with Aerogramme.