November 9, 2010

Belle and Sebastian - Write about Love

Some things take time. For Scottish twee pop legends Belle and Sebastian, it was releasing their eighth studio album after four years apart. For me, it was figuring out what to say about it.

There are remnants of Belle and Sebastian’s genre-defining 90s sounds on Write about Love that we haven’t heard since long before their 06 release The Life Pursuit. Although not a compromise of their old and new sounds, Write about Love sits somewhere in the middle of the Belle and Sebastian spectrum.

90s releases If You’re Feeling Sinister and The Boy with the Arab Strap were built on mellow guitar and soft vocals. The early 00s led to a poppier Dear Catastrophe Waitress and the extremely upbeat bursting 06 release The Life Pursuit. Now we have Write about Love, an album that doesn’t quite sit anywhere comfortably in the B&S timeline. The band’s sound is more mature than their most recent work. Their upbeat pop grooves have mellowed and are now more relaxed, taking their time to say what they’re trying to say. Their slower ballads are now flushed out, with more powerful instrumentals. On Write about Love, Belle and Sebastian take their time when they go fast and hurry things along when they slow down.

Sarah Martin is, for the first time, the lead vocalist as she sings on a majority of the album. However, we can still hear Murdoch as his harmonies nestle between Martin’s vocals and tight instrumentals.

Belle and Sebastian have always been crafting cheeky little pop tunes. To twee fans, Scots, and Scottish twee fans, among others, these guys are legends. It is difficult, therefore, to try and pick at Write about Love like any other album. To me it just seems less important to critique each song individually than it is to recognize this album for the accomplishment that it is.


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