Album Review

Belle & Sebastian - Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance

Daring, but as a record it lacks a coherent identity.

Belle & Sebastian - Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance

For all of the adjectives you could use to describe Glasgow sweethearts Belle & Sebastian; “twee”, “cerebral”, “brittle” perhaps, “daring” is the word that best sums up ‘Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance’. After almost 20 years through a career that’s encompassed various line-ups, enormous tours and an award-winning feature-length film, Stuart Murdoch and co have made a record that’s engineered primarily for dancing.

‘Girls in Peacetime…’ is a confusing beast. ‘The Everlasting Muse’ showcases the band’s musical prowess, particularly Murdoch’s ear for arrangement, as brass compliments a Spanish guitar middle-eight that’s classically B&S, with a time signature change thrown in for good measure. It should sound a mess, but instead it’s almost like a nod to early Beirut.

That’s sandwiched between electronic-driven songs like ‘The Party Line’ and the staggering ‘Enter Sylvia Plath’, which is almost Eurovision-esque in its bounciness. Recorded in Atlanta, with Ben H Allen (Bombay Bicycle Club, Animal Collective), it’s easy to see where the sound comes from; Murdoch’s recent protestations about wanting to be in Abba, mixed with Allen’s ability to record artists with strong melodic identities while harnessing a multi-textured, scattergun production technique shines through with aplomb, most of the time.

It’s ultimately these clashes of ideas that proves to be ‘Girls in Peacetime…’’s downfall, however. As a record, it lacks a coherent identity. ‘Ever Had a Little Faith’ could’ve easily fit onto ‘If You’re Feeling Sinister’, whereas the synth melody on ‘Play For Today’ has the vibe of a Casio demo. The guitars sound gorgeous, especially on ‘Allie’ and ‘The Book of You’, and it’s exciting to see a band that’s been around this long sound so daring, but it’s almost too expansive at times. It’s exciting, but too all over the place to be one of their best.

Tags: Belle and Sebastian, Reviews, Album Reviews

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