Belle and Sebastian – Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance
Listening to the latest Belle and Sebastian album is a bit like watching the band perform.
Twenty years ago that line would not read as a compliment. The Scottish pop group started out as a loose collective of musicians with a reputation as an unreliable live act. Nine albums later, they project an easy confidence no matter how expansive or ambitious the arrangement.
They know their strengths, chief among them pairing observational narratives about love and loneliness with exact, exuberant melodies. So when they break into HI-NRG Euro disco for nearly seven minutes on Enter Sylvia Plath, it sounds as much like Belle and Sebastian as it does ABBA’s Lay All Your Love On Me.
As the title indicates, Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance is their most rhythmically led album. It includes classic B&S torch songs but mainly doubles down on a bright and cheery European pop attitude that relishes every flourish and detail. As Stuart Murdoch sings with literary precision about illness, isolation and striving for human connections, their digressions into club music and klezmer feel as restorative as they do celebratory.
Top track: Play For Today