Great music; terrible album titles. That's the golden rule of Belle & Sebastian's output, a band notorious for popularising a smart and lyrically persuasive version of pantomimic twee pop. Stuart Murdoch's song-writing gets more intimate here, occasionally losing its show-boating and cheeky feel for songs about personal struggles, such as the frontman's battle with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. But this is also a dance record -- or so this band of merry trailblazers choose to believe. Dancing to indie pop isn't all that easy, so here's hoping Girls In Peacetime Want To Have Fun will be different.
Vinyl LP box set £36.75 OLE10568
4LP set on Matador in lidded box with exclusive artwork, poster and download coupon. Features two extended mixes and four bonus tracks.
- Includes download code
Vinyl Double LP £18.99 OLE10561
2LP on Matador.
- Includes download code
CD £9.99 OLE10562
CD on Matador.
I have to admit I’ve been a Belle and Sebastian apologist for far too long. I don’t *like* them as such but I’m generally happy that they are around and see them as generally harmless in the whole scheme of things. Let’s say I’ve liked the odd song over the years. This has been tested to the hilt though with the recent airplay of ‘The Party Line’ the horrific lead single from this, their 9th album. A messy mangle of horrid disco grooves and Abba influenced melodies. Why oh why do bands wait until they are in their 40’s before donning their disco shoes? This just makes them look like embarrassing disco dads and mums at the naffest wedding reception in the world.
Haters will have turned off long before then though, probably the opening line of “I was lying on my bed, I was reading French” will be enough for many people to sling it out of the window. However, fans of their winsome melodies will find enough to enjoy on ‘Nobody’s Empire’ which manages to stay warm and melodic. Not a glitter ball in sight. ‘Allie’ too showcases Stuart Murdoch’s way with a wandering tune which presumably dates back to the times he laid alone praying and listening to Love. Anyway this is a nicely tough 60’s influenced slab of tunefulness. Elsewhere ‘The Power of Three’ and ‘The Cat with the Cream’ are both slow burners, the latter taking the edge enjoying a lovely Murdoch vocal. Then comes ‘Enter Sylvia Plath’ who will probably turn in in her Heptonstall grave if she heard its cheap and nasty euro-disco stylings. The best moments on the album are when Belle and Sebastian play at being Belle and Sebastian and luckily there are plenty of them. ‘The Everlasting Muse’ and ’Everlasting Faith’ could have come off ‘If You Are Feeling Sinister’ if you squint your ears a bit and are both perfectly lovely.
There are only about 3 or 4 examples of tweedisco to skip past and if you make it right to the end then you'll find ‘Today (This Army’s For Peace)’ to be a reverb and string drenched gem. Utterly lovely. Overall as good as we’d have the right to expect given the terrible title and lead single.
9/10 John Hartley 17th April 2015
I bumped into some old friends the other day. I hadn’t seen them for a while; five years it transpired. It was really pleasant catching up with them and I ended up spending an hour in their company. They hadn’t changed much at all really, to the extent that it felt like I’d only seen them a few days before. They had news, of course. I enjoyed hearing about their Slavic encounters and the tale that stemmed from these was most enchanting. I didn’t realise they could be quite so adventurous.
We chatted about music, of course, and their professed preference for disco music. I reminded them that they had always fancied themselves as groovesters on the sly; even when we first met just under twenty years ago. They were always more St. Etienne than Ottowan when it came to dance though, and nothing has changed on that score. Except perhaps the day-glo socks seem a bit more forced if I’m going to be honest.
My friends seemed very content and at ease with where they find themselves. They have the knack of delivering their anecdotes with both menace and comfort at the same time, and still they look like a cat with the cream. And when we did come to go our separate ways again we shared a long and warm embrace which reminded me exactly why we were such close friends in the first place. I’m looking forward to catching up with them again soon. Hopefully it will be sooner than another five years.
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