en: Belle and Sebastian Write About Love [info]
People usually have an opinion - good or bad - about Belle and Sebastian. Words such as twee often turn up in critiques of the band, but to take that as gospel is to miss the point. Over the past decade and a half, the many-tentacled Glasgow outfit, operating under the guidance of founder and chief songwriter Stuart Murdoch, have gradually become something of a treasure. To dismiss them as something soft students mince around to while wearing cardigans is foolish. Cross this lot and you are D-E-A-D. (Okay, maybe not.)
For their eighth album, and first for four years, B&S have reconvened after extra-curricular dalliances, such as Murdoch's God Help the Girl and drummer Richard Colburn's Tired Pony, to reclaim their crown from, well, no one. There's simply no one else like them. There are some vague photocopies featuring people who you're surprised are allowed out of the house, but for a British band as unique, as special, as Belle and Sebastian, you really have to travel back to the days of The Smiths.
Muscular pop of the finest variety is on the agenda here. Opener I Didn't See It Coming explodes into a glorious widescreen chorus noise, and Come on Sister is a polite glam stomper. I Want the World to Stop finds the band in a state of exhilaration, scarves-aloft melodies that smell of talcum powder rising high. Guests lend their weight to proceedings, too: Norah Jones' honeyed tones illuminate Little Lou, Ugly Jack, Prophet John; and An Education star Casey Mulligan sings on the jaunty title-track. Both settle in effortlessly. The band's own Stevie Jackson's I'm Not Living in the Real World has a flavour of early Blur about it, and Sarah Martin's leads I Can See Your Future fit splendidly into the band's oeuvre.
Write About Love is a cracking pop album and a fine addition to a great band's already impressive catalogue. Had it been released a few months ago, it would've literally been the sound of summer. As it is, in a dank and damp October, it's the perfect accompaniment to a plateful of cakes. Marvellous.