Song of the Day #1,887: ‘Heaven in the Afternoon’ – Belle & Sebastian

belle_sebastian_third_eye_centreIt’s been three years since Belle & Sebastian’s last full-length album, Write About Love, so I’ve been itching to hear news of a future release.

So imagine my surprise when an email newsletter from Amoeba Records (remember them?) mentioned new music from the Scottish septet.

It turned out to be not a new album but a compilation of B-sides and assorted odds and ends from the past decade. Hey, good enough.

Belle & Sebastian have released an album like this before — 2005’s Push Barman to Open Old Wounds. But that was a compilation of seven EPs I already owned, and therefore irrelevant.

The band used to treat singles not as a way to promote tracks from their full-length albums but as mini releases of their own. They would release four- or five-song EPs between albums that contained songs every bit as good.

But ten years ago the band signed a four-album deal with Rough Trade records, and I have to assume the studio wasn’t crazy about that practice, because ever since they have released traditional singles with B-sides.

Now I’m a big Belle & Sebastian fan, but not the sort of person who buys the single release of a song I already own just to pick up two new tracks.

All that to say that Third Eye Centre is a perfect release for me — it gives me just about every new song the band released between albums without having to fork over the cash for a bunch of singles.

Because these are B-sides, they aren’t as strong as the old EPs. A few of these tracks are remixed versions of existing album songs, but the rest are odd little stylistic experiments that wouldn’t have fit on the full-length releases.

‘Heaven in the Afternoon,’ featuring a typically sweet lead vocal from occasional singer Sarah Martin, is a highlight.

I love you like I love my blood
I love this town, I love you just as much
I love you like I love my God
I thought that we agreed to never touch
Come and sit beside me in the dark
Incline your head

Mama take a hold of me
I read bad books, I’m crying in my sleep
Mama take a hold of me
Lonely’s easy for the rocks and trees
“Sister, make my feelings known,” I whisper to the grass

Supersonic sight, practiced in thickest light
9.30, hello night-time
I’ll never sleep again

Heaven in the afternoon
The sunlight bids me to the viewing room
I take a little overdose
And the sun has gone, I see the city clock
Baby, did you pick yourself a boy up in the aisle?

You want someone to read to you
A bear called Pooh
Tales of Ratty’s riverbank
A fantasy
Baby stories
A reverie
A body warm in sympathy
A body warm in sympathy

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,887: ‘Heaven in the Afternoon’ – Belle & Sebastian

  1. Dana says:

    In the modern era of iTunes and, even before that, CDs having long replaced vinyl, I don’t understand how B sides exist or, to the extent they do, how they are anything other than tracks that didn’t make the album. Are these songs, made in the last ten years, really on a vinyl single? If so, how quaint!

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