I’ve been a bit down on Belle and Sebastian lately due to the uncharacteristic mediocrity of their most recent release. The band’s first new material since 2015’s Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance is a collection of EPs that combine to form a 15-track album titled How to Solve Our Human Problems. And for my money, it’s the weakest thing they’ve ever recorded.
It’s not bad because it takes some left-field stylistic chances or anything interesting like that. It’s not even bad, really. It’s just meh. And Belle and Sebastian don’t do meh.
So today’s song, ‘Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying,’ from the band’s breakthrough masterpiece If You’re Feeling Sinister (1996) was just the balm I needed. It reminded me of everything wonderful about this unlikely band, and prompted me to digitally dust off and play their early albums.
Even if they’re never this great again (and I won’t bet against them), being this great at all is an accomplishment worth celebrating.
Play me a song to set me free
Nobody writes them like they used to
So it may as well be me
Here on my own now after hours
Here on my own now on a bus
Think of it this way
You could either be successful or be us
With our winning smiles, and us
With our catchy tunes and words
Now we’re photogenic
You know, we don’t stand a chance
Oh, I’ll settle down with some old story
About a boy who’s just like me
Thought there was love in everything and everyone
You’re so naive!
They always reach a sorry ending
They always get it in the end
Still it was worth it as I turned the pages solemnly, and then
With a winning smile, the poor boy
With naivety succeeds
At the final moment, I cried
I always cry at endings
Oh, that wasn’t what I meant to say at all
From where I’m sitting, rain
Falling against the lonely tenement
Has set my mind to wander
Into the windows of my lovers
They never know unless I write
“This is no declaration, I just thought I’d let you know goodbye”
Said the hero in the story
“It is mightier than swords
I could kill you sure
But I could only make you cry with these words”