Belle & Sebastian Dear Catastrophe Waitress ( Rough Trade/Sanctuary ) Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Putting together frightfully precious Scots popsters Belle & Sebastian with a controlling producer like Trevor Horn (ABC/ Frankie Goes To Hollywood) - notorious for only allowing his clients into the studio to record vocal tracks - seems more like a recipe for a tug-of-war than for an artistic triumph. But the unlikely pairing works shockingly well since they appear to have a common appreciation for the Beach Boys. It took Horn to get the "whitest band on earth" to loosen up, take some chances and stretch out on the delightfully sunny Dear Catastrophe Waitress, which finds Stuart Murdoch and company returning to the upbeat bounce of their best-loved early work. A very welcome surprise.
Belle & Sebastian play Massey Hall November 8.