Next week is a huge week. New albums by Sleater-Kinney, their first in nearly 10 years; Portland storytellers The Decemberists; and the fun and eclectic Belle and Sebastian. It was difficult to pick which album to focus on as our first First Impressions of 2015, but we opted to go with the Scottish troupe of Stuart Murdoch, Stevie Jackson, Sarah Martin, Chris Geddes, Bobby Kildea, and Richard Colburn.
Like Sleater-Kinney and The Decemberists, it’s difficult to find a single bad album by Belle and Sebastian. For that matter, they’ve only had stellar albums. So does Girls in the Peacetime Want to Dance follow in the footsteps of the previous 8 albums? Wendy, Michael, and Ben give their two cents.
After listening to the album three times in a row, I realized that if I were cast away on a deserted island and I could only take one artist’s or band’s entire discography with me, Belle and Sebastian would be heavily considered. I was a little leery of the new album based solely on hearing “The Party Line” since it was almost a dance track and everyone seems to be going that direction with heavier synth. Don’t get me wrong, I dig synth-pop but when established artists that are already great at what they do and then go that direction…well it doesn’t feel any different than what everyone else is doing. Luckily Girls In Peacetime Want to Dance only has a few tracks that are synth-driven. I kept going back to “The Book of You“, which in my opinion is the best track on the album. A few of my other favorites are “Perfect Couples“, “Play for Today” and “Nobody’s Empire“. I will definitely be going back to this album, and dare I say it might even be a contender for top albums of 2015 even though we haven’t even gotten through the month of January? Very enthusiastic Thumbs Up for me.
Did I enjoy this album? I would say that this was the most enjoyable hour of listening to music I have had in a long time. I was not overly excited about this release, although I love Belle and Sebastian and consider them indie legends. They have always been cool while being accessible. I, like many, got into them after watching High Fidelity and listening to the soundtrack (great movie & excellent book). I have not returned to them much recently but that will all change thanks to the beautiful Girls In Peacetime Want to Dance. If you, like me, were a little weary of the very pop-synth-driven single, “The Party Line”, please rest assure that the rest of the album has plenty of classic B&S moments that blend seamlessly with more upbeat pop numbers. Stand out tracks for me were “Play for Today” and “Nobody’s Empire”, but like I said I was completely immersed with the entire album. Easy thumbs up for me!
Belle and Sebastian have a special place in my heart. I can still remember first listening to The Boy with the Arab Strap, and how that album transformed the way I listened to and perceived music. It was like waking up from a long stupor to discover something so beautiful and magnificent. Every Belle and Sebastian album I have cherished and enjoyed, and admittedly I am biased when it comes to the Scottish band. When listening to their latest effort, Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance, I was a bit startled by the disco-/club- and more poppy feel of some of the tracks, like “The Party Line” and “Enter Sylvia Plath”, but these tracks are growers and perfect a genre that was despised by many yet adored by plenty. My favourite track is the delicious pop tune “The Book of You” while “Play for Today” reminded me of an epic Broken Social Scene tune. So good! And then there is the classic B&S sound – that light, airy pop-folk tinge that we have all come to love – on “Nobody’s Empire” and the gorgeous “Ever Had a Little Faith”. This album is terrific. It’s full of standout tracks, and there really isn’t a single dud on an album that sees Belle and Sebastian reinvent themselves. A big, big thumbs up to Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance!
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