Videos by American Songwriter
Belle & Sebastian
Write About Love
[Rating: 3.5 stars]
Listen as Belle & Sebastian once again direct you to your happy place. For more than ten years, they’ve been known for their sage lyricism, instrumental finesse and being the reincarnation of the Smiths, and its fairly easy to see why the latter comparison is so often made. Like their ’80s predecessors, B & S have released possibly some of the most dignified and gentlemanly music out there.
Their eighth studio album is somewhere between an extension of their previous indie gems and another baby step towards radio-friendliness. Despite their success here and in the UK, they nevertheless remain slightly under the radar. But even if their indie romanticism turns you off, you might still appreciate the remarkable tidiness of their musicianship. Stuart Murdoch’s and Sarah Martin’s vocals never waver. Every chord is neatly resolved – just listen to “I Didn’t See It Coming,” the sparkling opener. “Make me dance/I want to surrender,” Murdoch sings amidst a thin, honeyed riff cutting through Martin’s vocal sweetness. It’s the stuff hipster dreams are made of.
While optimism is poured into the instrumentation with unexpected brass and the warble of keys, all the little let downs and sarcasm color the lyrics. Throughout eleven tracks, Murdoch weaves subdued and practical fairy tales. He wishes to evade the reality of the world and compares the beauty of the written word to romance. “Love is like a novel/read the blessed pages.” After that, you may just be inspired to open the book. The lyrics are an endless tug-of-war between happy and sad, but they’re aloft on a dreamy mess of ’60s pop jangle and ’80s alternative. Though quiet in its grandeur, in the end, the album has the power to leave you elated and a little bit in love.