At one point in the book he, as a record store owner, is asked to provide his top five favorite songs for a column in a local magazine. The prospect of having one of his lists set in stone and published for all the world to see scares him to death.
I’m not sure how much I can really say about a two and a half minute instrumental track from an album of Belle and Sebastian b-sides.
This song has that familiar surf rock sound, which I like. It conjures up a modern western vibe, memorably tapped into by Quentin Tarantino in Pulp Fiction.
If You’re Feeling Sinister – Belle & Sebastian (1996)
Another sophomore album, Belle & Sebastian’s If You’re Feeling Sinister was also my first introduction to a band that would become one of my very favorites.
This record served as many people’s first impression of the group, as their debut album, Tigermilk, was not widely available for years after its release. Only when it was re-released on CD following the (relative) success of Sinister did casual fans get to hear it for the first time.
For 15 years, Belle & Sebastian have been releasing albums chock full of literate, gorgeous pop music. They’ve recorded so many string-and-horn embellished soft rock songs that it’s hard to believe there’s a melody or a trumpet solo out there that they haven’t hit on yet.
But in 2010 they did it again. Their latest album, Write About Love, features a handful of tracks as good as anything the band has put out over the past decade. Par for the course.
I can be critical of things, even things I expect to love. But I can’t imagine listening to a new album by a favorite artist without a rooting interest in it being great. And I don’t think critics do that.
On the contrary, I believe a good critic has a “show me” attitude and expects the work he’s reviewing to fall just about halfway between good and bad until he’s convinced to tip that scale one way or the other.
I’m bringing this up because my first listen to Belle and Sebastian’s new album, Write About Love, left me mostly indifferent. And were I a critic, that probably would have been that. Six paragraphs, two and a half stars… next!
I’ve read that the new Barenaked Ladies album (the first without Steven Page) contains several songs with references to Page’s departure… usually bitter references trashing him for letting down the band. That makes them the latest in a long line of band members who have used their music to take shots at each other.
John Lennon and Paul McCartney famously ripped each other in their first solo albums after The Beatles broke up (John’s ‘How Do You Sleep?’ was particularly brutal, including the lines “those freaks was right when they said you was dead… the sound you make is muzak to my ears, you must have learned something in all those years”).
I last featured Belle & Sebastian on this blog during a theme week more than a year ago. Actually, that marked the beginning of my regular theme weeks dedicated to single artists or groups. And at the time I restricted myself to five songs regardless of the group’s discography.
As a result, I had to skip over several of the band’s albums, including 2003’s Dear Catastrophe Waitress. I think Belle & Sebastian is ripe for another theme week sometime soon, one that gives each of their albums its proper due. But for now I’ll just highlight one song from this excellent album.