The upbeat, playful melodies and rhythms of Scottish band Belle and Sebastian are up to the task of converting any cloudy day (naturally occurring or imposed) to that of a sunny disposition. This wistful, indie pop group has been brewing the antidote to gloom since 1996 and with the release of their latest album Write About Love, they prove yet again that a positive perspective can be just as elegantly crafted as it’s somber counterpart.
The music created by this ensemble, led by the songwriting and vocals of Stuart Murdoch, is often categorized as twee pop or baroque pop that is characterized by jangling, 60s pop inspired guitars and the use of instruments such as cello and French horn not typically associated with rock music. However, the association of the word ‘twee’ should not be used to unfairly dismiss Murdoch’s lyrics and melodies as simple and/or predictably trite. Lyrics are clever and playful, disguised under effervescent instrumentation are personal struggles with faith and Christianity along with messages about the redemptive power of music. Melodies and arrangements are intricate; proving that while Murdoch may be the ringleader, the concentrated efforts of the group is what gives Belle and Sebastian their distinctive sound.
Belle and Sebastian’s music is a testament to the idea that just because the hooks are catchy and you want to sing along with the infectious chorus, doesn’t mean the song is boring by the third listen. When you tire of drowning your sorrows, try some sun.
If you like: Peter Bjorn and John, The Shins, Sufjan Stevens, Spoon
Check out: Belle & Sebastian (start with The Life Pursuit, continue with Write About Love and graduate to Dear Catastrophe Waitress and their other albums)
Feeling brave: Camera Obscura, Islands, The Boy Least Likely To, Jens Lekman
AI level: Beginner