I promise that I will lay off the dream pop for a while after this. jk. I will never lay off the dream pop. But I may give it a rest with this particular Belle & Sebastian album. I know I’ve been flogging it pretty relentlessly. Dream pop is dream pop for a reason, though. I love the gauzy, slightly twee atmosphere. It’s retro and it feels innocent, even though it may have lyrics that are the opposite of those things. It feels like music from European caper movie from the sixties. If it helps me imagine myself as a glamorous sixties ingenue, don’t judge. I want to feel like Catherine Deneuve in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg sometimes, instead of Catherine Deneuve in Repulsion.
Yes, this record again. I just keep playing it. I have to say that I’ve never paid much attention to the lyrics of this song before, but that’s where unasked-for lyric videos come in. You’ll find that it has a little bit more depth than the glowing melodies would suggest. Of course, Belle & Sebastian cornered the market on bookish romanticism a while back, with their penchant for wordy, Morrissey-esque album titles. This isn’t quite master level, but it’s not quite your garden variety I-Love-You pop either. The slight touch of doom pushes it over the edge. Love just means more when the world is threatening to burn; it’s a refute to the wordy title.
Don’t judge, I really love this album. I know it’s a bit sudden and random. I mean, I never cared about Belle & Sebastian before, and they’ve been around for more than a decade. Also the record came out two years ago I’m obsessed with it now. And I still don’t particularly care for any of their other records. They’re kind of boring and low-key. I think maybe I like this because it reminds me of Savoir Adore, who don’t exist anymore. It’s kind of hard to really develop an interest in a band that’s not really a band, though. They’re more of a collective, led by singer Stuart Murdoch, and they’re all very normal and boring in real life. These are the kind of musicians who make music because they’re professional musicians and it’s their job, unlike the kind who set out to become rock stars because they’re too dysfunctional to do literally anything else with their lives. Which kind of a challenge to be a fan of. Call it vague appreciation rather than genuine interest. But still, this is a record that has worked its way into regular rotation, and honestly, not that many albums do that.
This has a nice sixties europop vibe. Which is exactly on trend right now, I think. We’re all about celebrating old things that used to be uncool. I suppose that includes Belle & Sebastian themselves. They debuted in 1996, and shoegazing dreampop wasn’t exactly mainstream. The tides have turned quite a bit since then; emo happened, and now nearly everybody is a shoegazer. So I hope that Stuart Murdoch feels a little vindicated, after being mocked by the cool kids for so long.
My main impression of Belle & Sebastian over the years has been as a punchline in rock-snob movies. (See High Fidelity ) It’s wimpy poetry-nerd music or something, apparently. Fair enough; you can’t get any more precious than taking your name from a French children’s show about a boy and his dog. It does seem like they’ve evolved a lot since then, because their last album was a perfect fit for indie pop radio. Either Belle & Sebastian have become cooler, or the music scene has become more twee-friendly. Their current sound is pretty catchy, definitely more geared towards accessibility. It may still send Jack Black into paroxysms of snobbery, but it wouldn’t be as funny as it was in the year 2000.