It’s a quality of their music that doesn’t just strike a nerve but grabs hold of a nerve and strums it like an upright bass.
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!