58 – Belle & Sebastian

Now, this was originally planned as a bonus post on the very reasonable grounds that I’ve been aware (and a fan) of these guys for many years and have seen them in concert on multiple occasions. Which kind of piddles in the face of the strict criteria I set myself for this challenge.

But as I’ve just spent the morning retroactively adding posts for the past three or four days, I’m not affording myself the luxury of an extra addition. So they get in on a technicality (i.e. my laziness) for day 58.

Anyhow, here’s twee, Scottish indie starlets Belle & Sebastian – a band that I was first introduced to by a university friend all the way back in 1998-99. They’ve maintained a lengthy, and relatively critically-acclaimed, career by producing cheery little pieces of small town storytelling full of jangly guitars and melodic harmonies.

For a proper history of B&S, you really have to go back and listen to their debut Tigermilk which is absolutely amazing, or the slightly more commercially successful The Boy With the Arab Strap or If You’re Feeling Sinister. But their newer stuff is definitely worth a listen too.

The problem is that I keep missing every new B&S album when it drops, only to “discover” them about six months later. I did it with 2010’s Write About Love (which is excellent) and I totally missed 2013’s The Third Eye Centre altogether until a few months ago (thanks Spotify) – and it’s the same with this one. The wonderfully titled Girls In Peacetime Want to Dance came out last year and it’s taken me until this week to finally listen to it. Sigh.

Anyhow, now that I’ve got that out of the way, here’s to today’s song. This is the album opener Nobody’s Empire and it’s a really nice addition to the Belle & Sebastian lexicon. With a strong driving guitar line and some typically introspective vocals from frontman Stuart Murdoch, I would happily put this on a compilation of their best work. Which is, unfortunately, more than I can say for the rest of the album – as it’s pretty underwhelming.

Pity. It’s a strong start to something that could have been great. Hopefully next time.

 

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