Record review: Belle and Sebastian – Girls in Peacetime Want To Dance (2015, LP)

belle and sebastian girls

Belle and Sebastian have always been somewhat of a perplexing quantity. At times brilliant, horrifically twee and infuriatingly vague all in the space of one album, the Scottish sextet has generally always been critically acclaimed during their near 20-year history, but have never translated that into commercial success. Will this ninth record change their fortunes? The answer is probably not, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a fine effort nonetheless. Wonderfully slick and soulful opener ‘Nobody’s Empire’ recalls the best poppy parts of 1998 classic The Boy With The Arab Strap while dealing with some pretty dark lyrics about singer Stuart Murdoch’s struggles with chronic fatigue syndrome. ‘Allie’ veers a little too closely to being Beach Boys-lite before exploding into life, and lead single ‘The Party Line’ is a surprisingly groovy disco number that makes you want to dance like John Travolta circa 1977. It becomes clear that eclecticism is still very much part of the band, as the indie misery of ‘The Cat with the Cream’ bleeds into club banger ‘Enter Sylvia Plath’. It’s a mixed bag up to this point, but one that’s fun and engaging, although the quality tails off a little towards the end, with the exception of the faux-calypso duet with Dum Dum Girls’ Dee Dee Penny on ‘Play For Today’. Ladies and gentlemen, hold on to your hats: Belle and Sebastian have relocated their mojo. (Matador)

For mX

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