Emma Pollock

Watch the Fireworks

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Fans mourning the demise of the mercurial Scottish pop deconstructionists the Delgados can put away their tissues, as vocalist/guitarist Emma Pollock has crafted one the group's finest efforts to date, albeit as a solo artist. The 11 cuts that make up the gifted singer's lovely and windswept debut Watch the Fireworks echo many of her former band's finest moments, a notion that has as much to do with Pollock's clear, crisp, and effortless voice as it does the fact that her husband and former Delgados drummer Paul Savage brings all of the economical, clock-like urgency to the kit that he did on key band tracks like "Light Before We Land," "Knowing When to Run" and "Girls of Valour." Pollock's gift for serpentine airs asserts itself in the very first minute of opener "New Land," a gorgeous waltz that gets more and more sinister with each loop of its long-limbed main melodic phrase. Pollock achieves a similar feat on the album's three mesmerizing ballads. Like fellow 4AD alums Lisa Germano and Kristin Hersh, Pollock knows how to conduct atmosphere, and between the heartbreaking "Limbs," the ethereal, Cocteau Twins-inspired "Fortune," and the mystical closer "Optimist," she lays down enough mist to challenge all of the heavyweights of mid-'90s dream pop combined. That's not to say that the record as a whole is a downer, as she, along with Savage, his multi-talented keyboard playing brother Jamie, and Aereogramme bassist Campbell McNeil have crafted enough sugary indie pop confections to launch a hundred late summer road trips (the expansive, piano-led "Adrenaline" alone, if played before noon on a workday, could result in a lunch break that easily blurs into a weekend). Watch the Fireworks toasts all the seasons, though the moors and highlands of its "creator"'s native Scotland paint it with the long shadows of impending winters. Other acts have mined this mid-tempo landscape before, but few have had it this figured out beforehand.

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