A common theme has run through most of my reviews for LDN Life. I’ve generally commented on the pains of growing old and the inevitable mellowing out that accompanies it. What joy then that one of my favourite bands, Belle and Sebastian, have released a new album. I’ve spent most of the past two decades with Belle and Sebastian accompanying me throughout my more melancholy moments.
Imagine then my surprise then when I listened to Belle and Sebastian’s first offering for four years, ‘Girls In Peace Want To Dance’, and I was greeted by a collection of electronica, synth-induced Europop-indie. All of a sudden I was taken back to 1996 and Electronic Renaissance.
The influence of producer Ben H Allen (Gnarls Barkley, Animal Collective) is evident from the off. Opener Nobody’s Empire is an up-tempo track that is brutally honest and beautifully painful in equal measure, as for the first time Stuart Murdoch confronts his past fight with ME head-on – a topic that you don’t expect to be nodding along to.
As the album title suggests Murdoch had gotten political with the content of this album as he tackles issues facing both modern British society and global issues, such as “bombs in the middle east…knives on the city streets” in Allie and with lead single The Party Line, which whilst jam packed full of synths is a commentary on the shallowness of today’s instant gratification society and the ever problematic dilemmas of the morning after – don’t worry though, the song will still have you dancing around the room.
The Everlasting Muse was by far my least favourite song on the album (if not of all Belle and Sebastian tracks), with the Cossack influence a leap too far for me in fact I’ll be skipping whenever I listen to this album (unless I have a bottle of vodka in my hand!).
The same cannot be said for Ever Had A Little Faith? which upon hearing (as a long time Belle and Sebastian) it was hard to contain my excitement. Hidden away amongst an album of disco this is a classic Velvet Underground influenced Belle and Sebastian track – no surprising from a song that was actually written by the band in the mid-90s. Thanks for the nostalgia hit!
A guest appearance by Dee Dee Penny of Dum Dum Girls fame gives some strong female vocals on the wonderfully catchy Play For Today, whilst closing track, the psychedelic Today (This Army’s For Peace), shoots out reverb at a listener who is being carried away from a world full of chaos on a cloud of hope – it is a perfect ending to ‘Girls In Peacetime….’, an album that whilst far removed from many previous releases is as comfortable and confident in its direction.
Belle and Sebastian – Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance
Hitting the right notes
An electronic renaissance as Belle and Sebastian dump tried and tested for dance fuelled social commentary that hits the right note.