The world is a nasty place. The Delgados are here to tell you that as nicely as possible.

"Hate" is the fourth album of the Delgados' career, but it's only the second in the string- and brass-swaddled style of 2000's "The Great Eastern." Both that disc and this one were produced by Dave Fridmann, who's a member of Mercury Rev as well as the Flaming Lips's longtime co-producer. His job is to provide the musical swells that serve as an ironically lush counterpoint to Alun Woodward's or Emma Pollock's lonely vocals. The irony quotient increases this time, with the orch-pop arrangements arrayed against titles such as "Child Killers" and "All You Need Is Hate."

Not every track is lavish and despondent. "Coming in From the Cold" is a lively song with a relatively spare sound and an engaging Pollock-Woodward singalong refrain, and "All Rise" leads from a bit of "Wild Mountain Thyme," a Scottish folk standard, into the set's most anthemic chorus.

Still, the Delgados' current musical schema dominates, and limits, the album. "Hate" is always impressive, but only sometimes likable.

-- Mark Jenkins

Appearing Wednesday at the Black Cat with Aerogramme and the Essex Green. * To hear a free Sound Bite from the Delgados, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8109. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)