Friday, 3 June 2011

Belle & Sebastian - If You're Feeling Sinister

Belle & Sebastian are a Scottish Indie/Baroque/Chamber Pop band who formed in the 1990's. This is Belle & Sebastian's second studio album after the previous outstanding debut Tigermilk. This  was met with substantial critical acclaim by many of musics great publications. They make a drastic improvement from the previous record here. This is visible throughout the entire 41 minute album.  They managed to release two critically acclaimed albums in one year, 1996.

Singer/Songwriter.. Occasional Rhythm Guitar and Piano player Stuart Murdoch, was writing these songs during his bleak, but peak period after coming out of severe isolation.  The songs here are lyrically pleasing on the ear. His songwriting is more story based, he isn't purposely rhyming for the sake of it. You can hear the difference between songs on 'If You're Feeling Sinister' and say 2010's 'Write About Love'. That's because these songs were written prior to Belle & Sebastian's existence. 

The album starts with 'The Stars of Track and Field'. This highlights Stuarts ability as a musician. The lyrics follow a progressive pattern going through a life like structure. It has great horn work and the acoustic guitar is very laid back and works with the organ riff which is heard in the background.
Songs such as 'Me & The Major' are absolute gems, the sweet Twee Pop like song structure works perfectly with Stuart's easy going, vocal work. "I get stuck in the lift, it's always with a man of noble standing who looks down on me like I was never born." Lyrics like this are one of the main aspects of Belle & Sebastian, they mirror The Smiths in terms of lyrical style. With the obvious Indie Pop influence. This song has amazing guitar work and fast paced vocals. The lyrics really do stand out as a key ingredient to Belle & Sebastian's music, without these themed lyrics, they just wouldn't be as special.

'Like Dylan In The Movies' has a simple, effortless structure with it's raising bass riff and light acoustic guitar. The track improves in volume, layers and strings for the chorus and reverts back to the simple structure for the verse, with a guitar solo included for effect. The following song 'Fox In The Snow' takes a key piano riff and combines it with Spanish guitar and emotive vocals by Stuart. The lyrics are lovely and the string arrangements only raise the level of beauty.

The second half of the album starts with an absolute cracker, 'Get Me Away From Here I'm Dying'. It's a steady song with strong guitar work and respectable drumming. The lyrics are among the best on this album. with heartfelt lyrics like "I always cry at endings", this is repeated throughout the song. The following track, 'If You're Feeling Sinister', has a progressive structure with raised vocals and great dynamics. Everything sounds raw, yet well refined. The production is top class for this kind of recording. The soundscapes are brilliant with field recordings of children playing It really does give the song a deeper atmosphere which only elevates the brilliant lyrics which you should read.

'The Boy Done Wrong Again' has a lovely vocal. Stuart's vocals are either hit or miss, but you can really feel the emotion and his raw passion. These are his songs and he only wants to be heard, this song does that for him. His voice sticks out among the bass work and steady effectless acoustic guitar. It's one of my favourites on the album because of the heartfelt vocals.

The closing song, 'Judy and The Dream of Horses', has the same vocal and guitar style as the previous song, just with an inclination to progress and build as a song. it does this with wind instruments and eventual drum and bass work. It's a lovely end to the album due to the incredible lyrics and fast paced Indie guitar. The final minute is a real highlight with the lyrics, "The best looking boys are take, the best looking girls are staying inside".

This album separates itself from the typical 1990's British rock music scene. it's the ultimate highlight of the Indie Pop genre. It manages to evoke an emotional reaction from the listener with myself feeling a deep personal response to the songs. Some people react differently to this album, but I react the same way every time.. Lonely.


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