7. Belle & Sebastian – Write About Love
I know a spell
That would make you well
Write about love, it could be in any tense
But it must make sense
– Write About Love
Is it even worth trying to be critical about this band?
Is this their best album? No.
Will 2010 be remembered as the year this album changed the world? No.
Was it the soundtrack to my year? Yes. (although it came out quite late in the year)
I’m a huge Belle & Sebastian fan, and it’s been far too long between drinks (although the God Help the Girl album is a five star classic). I could not wait for this album and I’ve spent a lot of time with it. And it’s lovely.
2005’s The Life Pursuit was a pop/rock/dance extravaganza. This one dials it back a little. There’s definitely some fun and funky numbers, but nothing approaching the 70s T-Rex wannabes on their last album. In fact, we see the return of two B&S staples – the fragile acoustic songs, and the female vocals.
Although it’s simplifying it, it’s like they are torn between their two sides at the moment. The first half of the album is filled with the rockers. Seems like it could be the funnest B&S album yet. But the album trails off to a series of slow numbers at the end. A bit late era B&S, a bit early era B&S.
The dance/rockers (or potential singles) do everything they are supposed to. I Didn’t See It Coming is a hit right out of the box. Write About Love returns to a classic Stuart Murdoch theme – escape from sickness through fantasy (with actress Carey Mulligan on vocals). And without trying, they are just a little cleverer and wittier than bands trying to mine the same sounds.
As usual, the ballads are where the emotional heft of this record lays. Calculating Bimbo is an affecting a character study as anything Murdoch has ever written. Little Lou, Ugly Jack, Prophet John continues the soulful ballad that they are quickly mastering, while two friends quiet fall out with eachother. Speaking of quiet – I’m not sure any other band has the balls to be as quiet as Read The Blessed Pages’ sombre whisper.
This album, like Dear Catastrophe Waitress, has a bit of everything. It doesn’t have a solid narrative as an album – but that might be what five years off gives you. Part of me would have liked to have seen B&S turn into a blue eyed soul band, but it looks like everything is back to normal.
Which is why this album is not higher on the list – it’s exactly what I expected. No surprises. After 5 years, it’s is only just good enough.
But this band. Geez. I just love what they do. It just seems I love them more as the years pass. As all the contemporaries get deleted off my iPod, I’m tracking down B&S b-sides. I don’t find myself getting as obsessed with bands anymore, but for some reason this band remains. If you have not discovered this band, then this record is not a bad place to start (although maybe Dear Catastrophe is better…)
Every 7 years, my birthday falls on a Monday and there’s always great albums released. This year, this was one of them.
Best Tracks: Write About Love, I Want the World To Stop, Calculating Bimbo
Official site – http://www.belleandsebastian.com/
There was no clip for Write About Love, but here are the band performing it on Jimmy Fallon. Why they keep doing silly things like having kids writing in the crowd. Just makes them seem like the most shut off indie band ever. Oh well. Great glasses Stuart.
As WordPress wont embed a photobucket video, here’s a YouTube of I Didn’t See It Coming