Domestiques is the sound of the Delgados developing their songcraft. Everything is a bit more loose and jagged than on Peloton and The Great Eastern. Perhaps they hadn't yet mastered their instruments, or they were torn between the pop and punk aesthetics they would later straddle so masterfully. For the most part, the melodies and hooks aren't as strong as later material; maybe the album is missing a certain bittersweet quality. Sonically, things are about on par with the later albums, but there's less harmonizing and less interplay between the two lead vocalists. The songs here are also a bit noisier and less focused than later songs. At the same time, there are certainly some great hooks in the mix. Even when things don't take off fully on the flights of fancy for which the band would become known, the songwriting is always first-rate. It's quite fun to hear the sped-up catchiness and angst of "Sucrose" and "Friendly Conventions," which suggest that the band was then thinking of going the route of Bis. The Delgados really did come out of the gate as expert songwriters on this debut album. The best signs of things to come are found in "Akumulator," "4th Channel," and "Under Canvas Under Wraps." Domestiques is a strong debut album from the Delgados; it blows pretty much every other album in the genre out of the water except, of course, Peloton and The Great Eastern. These 14 songs, getting in under the gun at 40 minutes, are the first giant steps from a band that would soon be leaping long before it looked, or so the cliché goes. It is quite easy to lose yourself in the catchy charms of any album by the Delgados; every band should be forced to study the Delgados' discography before starting out.
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AllMusic Review by Tim DiGravina