There hasn’t been a new Belle & Sebastian record in five years. The Scottish pop group made good use of that time to develop fresh ideas for Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance.
Sonically, the album is diverse and unexpected. An eyebrow might be raised during the dance beat of the folk-pop band’s single “Party Line” or the Klezmer chorus in “The Everlasting Muse.” Don’t let the surprising deter you.
Belle & Sebastian take cheesy synths, beats, and bouncy bass and deftly places them in their complex songs. They also know how to feature different musical styles: the Northern soul stomp at the last moments of “Perfect Couples” or the Euro-pop beat of “Enter Slyvia Plath” suit them well.
Bandleader Stuart Murdoch explores new lyrical content as well as new sounds. “Nobody’s Empire” tackles his battle with chronic fatigue syndrome, a subject he’s never written about. The illness isn’t universal, but the message about rebirth speaks to the bookish and the shy.
The musical variety, the storytelling, and plush instrumentals make Girls in Peacetime a collection that is full of movement and void of any dull moments.
Album: Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance
Artist: Belle & Sebastian
Label: Matador Records
Songs: (1) Nobody's Empire (2) Allie (3) The Party Line (4) The Power of Three (5) The Cat with the Cream (6) Enter Sylvia Plath (7) The Everlasting Muse (8) Perfect Couples (9) Ever Had a Little Faith? (10) Play for Today (11) The Book of You (12) Today (This Army's for Peace)