It’s funny, you really can hear so much of the Delgados in this. Given that, after Emma Pollock’s solo album last year, this is the product of the other half of that split, that’s no surprise of course, but as a fan of the Delgados it is quite strange to hear so much of their sound in something that is in many ways rather different.
Looking at the respective solo work and then back at the Delgados themselves it seems mean to say, but the removal of Pollock’s earnest piano balladry has done this music no harm at all. I quite like her solo stuff, but the playfulness spilling out of this record is an absolute fucking joy. It’s pop, for sure, for those of you who consider that label a slight insult (I can be the same myself, not that I’m all that proud of it), it has some jaunty circus licks, a touch of broadway in a sense, it sprawls about all over the shop, and is generally really rather splendid.
Lyrically it actually reminds me somewhat of Aidan Moffat’s recent album How to Get to Heaven From Scotland. It’s not quite so up front about its verbal virtuosity, but the combination of dish towel navel-gazing and sly humour is definitely quite similar. I can’t imagine Moffatt referencing Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree though, although in all honesty it’s far from impossible.
The rhythm drifts from the borderline military thrum, as illustrated on the cover, to the more orchestral pace we know from the Delgados, in particular from their later material. That’s a broad generalisation though, because in general the overall variety of this album is one of its great strengths. Orchestral waves do wash across it from time to time, but it’s not unusual for the accordion to be left to get on with things alone. I like albums which can do this, particularly, as this one does so well, when the lyrical material is able to confidently make you laugh without detracting from the sincerity of the next song. Songs like Picasso, for example, are musically quite basic despite the swelling arrangements towards the end, whereas other songs have absolutely everything thrown at them, including the kitchen sink.
It doesn’t do me much credit to admit that I had no idea this was coming, honestly, despite its appearing on a label only based about an hour away. I actually had to be introduced to an album made in Glasgow by a publicity company based in the States, of all things, in the form of Team Clermont. Still, no matter how I finally got here I’m glad I did, because Lord Cut Glass is an inventive joy of an album. One of the surprise hits of the year so far, as far as I’m concerned.
From the Song, by Toad Archives. Visit Song, by Toad for more from Matthew.