50. Belle and Sebastian – “The Boy with the Arab Strap”

Hmmm, I thought the B&S folks were on to a winning formula, yet this release is a little underwhelming. The rich field alluded to in yesterday’s review is starting to feel a little less fertile.

belle-and-sebastian-the-boy-with-the-arab-strap-album-coverI struggle to explain what lets the album down. Perhaps I’m losing the energy to listen closely enough to the vocals. And I’m craving a bit more diversity in sound.

The band is trying a few new things, like letting folks other than Murdoch sing. There is some relief in hearing a less capable singer on Seymour Stein and Chickfactor, although neither track is particularly strong. Isobel Campbell’s outing is more engaging if almost a little too ethereal. And the spoken word space tune is just rubbish… other than for showcasing a wonderful brogue.

This is in no way a terrible album. The highpoints are still pretty irresistible. The opening song It Could Have Been a Brilliant Career almost outdoes The Smiths in terms of witty melancholia – songs lamenting strokes in young adults will do that. Similarly Ease Your Feet in the Seas and The Summer Wasted are the songs in the B&S catalogue that most justify the oft-made Lucksmiths comparisons.

File under: Band democracy isn’t a good thing

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