A Bit of Previous

The respected indie-pop band from Glasgow, Scotland, solidified their enviable reputation with three excellent records, all released in the late 90s: Tigermilk (1996), If You’re Feeling Sinister (1996) and The Boy with the Arab Strap (1998). Since that time, the group led today by Stuart Murdoch has more or less contented itself with surfing on its fame by creating effective and constant albums, but which have never reached the standards established with the long formats mentioned above. above.

The band’s last studio album dates back to 2015 with the release of Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance. After seven years of absence, Belle and Sebastian is therefore back with a 10and career opus titled A Bit of Previous; a creation born out of pandemic duress, as the band had to abandon their planned recording project at the end of 2019. Belle and Sebastian therefore had to modify his creative approach by collecting his new songs in his rehearsal studio.

So what did Murdoch do all these years? He took the opportunity to deepen the Buddhist and Christian philosophies without becoming a devotee blinded by his faith. However, the themes explored by the songwriter on A Bit of Previous are tinged with many spiritual reflections: the passage of time, survival, reincarnation, etc.

In Working Boy in New York City, it tells the story of a young man who decides to move to the American megalopolis in order to fully become himself. But for Murdoch, redemption necessarily involves the advent of some form of inner peace:

Pray, gay
You are the holy boy outside the scriptures
Far and away from all the brightest sunbeams

You thing to stay and fight from the inside

– Working Boy in New York City

Musically, those nostalgic for the first albums (we’re one of them!) will have to accept the sonic gentrification of the band. Having become followers of meditation and attentive parents today, these aging luminaries of indie folk-pop, have only the humble, but noble claim, to write comforting songs. Even if this approach does not necessarily favor the birth of “high art”, it can be said that Belle and Sebastian ages well, in complete serenity.

Despite the usual lush realization associated with bands that “succeeded”, one finds with pleasure the magnificent arrangements that have constantly characterized the band’s work. Belle and Sebastian has always been able to breathe into his songs, and in a beautiful way, orchestral sounds that magnify them without dominating them.

In come on homewe think of the Beach Boys from the mythical album Pet Sounds (1966). On Unnecessary Drama and Young and Stupid, the judicious use of the harmonica recalls the glorious era of the Smiths. Murdoch and his acolytes venture into orchestral folk-country à la Neil Diamond with Deathbed of My Dreams. Even synthetic incursions, like Reclaim the Night, are altogether successful. A single shadow on the board: Talk to Me, Talk to Me oddly reminiscent of Huey Lewis & the News training… and that’s not necessarily a compliment as far as we’re concerned.

A Bit of Previous is a disc filled with positive vibrations in perfect coherence with the spiritual approach of Stuart Murdoch.

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A Bit of Previous

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