Belle and Sebastian – Write About Love Album Review
I’ll admit it – Belle and Sebastian have quite a hipster glare shining off them, bright enough to scare a lot of people away who would scowl at a literate band who infuses an appreciation of English Romantic poets and French playwrights into what they ostensibly call “pop” music all while emitting a very 1960s British mod aesthetic.
But that’s really a complete stereotype – an amalgamation of immediate prejudices and a disdain for anything seeming too “elitist.”
What Belle and Sebastian really is is simply an indie Brit-pop band, with some admittedly high-brow leanings, but nevertheless a focus on writing songs that might mean something to someone – regardless of whether they wear chunky knit sweaters and thick-framed glasses.
Write About Love is the next installment in their catalog, and while it’s nothing new for this well-traveled troupe, it could be for you if you’ve been writing them off all these years.
Throughout this album, B&S is generally set to one of two modes – a light, breezy, soft-rocking, keyboard and bass-driven one (“I Didn’t See It Coming”), or an even lighter, dreamy, honey-vocal-driven one (“Calculating Bimbo”). One of the things that makes B&S so appealing is the vocal interplay between the various band members, always anchored and lead by Stuart Murdoch but with frequent female exchanges, courtesy of Sarah Martin. The harmonization is quite impressive, and it’s evidence of a group that really understands its own capabilities. The female vocal component is also ratcheted up on this album with the inclusion of guest appearances by Norah Jones (an alluring turn on “Little Lou, Ugly Jack, Prophet John”) and actress Carey Mulligan (the retro title track).
As you can judge from the title, this album has a lot of love songs. Sure, most of them are about conventional boy-girl relationships, but it also touches on an examination of the love of God as well as the love of escaping the “real world” to enjoy the the kind of youthful innocence that escapes us day by day – “Now it’s Monday morning / I’m still yawning / Scuffling down the city street, / Heading for the clock on / Bought a ‘Daily Record’ like a real man / Well I made it to the real world / But I’m not living in the real world.”
Come on, now who can’t relate to that?