DELGADOS - Universal Audio (Chemikal Underground)

For their latest album the Delgados have eschewed their trademark orchestral backing and perform as a band unit throughout. 'I Fought The Angels' illustrates from the start that they can cut it, with clipped guitar chords leading into one of their most memorable tunes. The ballads like 'Is This All That I Came For' and 'Sink Or Swim' shine through as they always did, but now in a raw state where you can hear every bitter word. 'Everybody Come Down' is another infectious pop tune, and they show that they haven't lost their deft touch with a melodic ballad with 'Bits Of Bone' and 'The City Consumes Us'. 'Girls Of Valour' is a more up-tempo piece with a particularly effective a capella chorus, and the syncopated verses of 'Keep On Breathing' are a nice touch. The album ends with a joint vocal from Emma and Stewart on the lovely 'Now And Forever', closing an excellent return to form after the rather dense 'Hate'. If the band felt that they had to prove that they could make an album solely as a band unit then they have pulled it off admirably, but they didn't really have to as when you write songs as good as these then the quality shines through no matter how they are presented.