Belle and Sebastian, Dear Catastrophe Waitress
Few bands have emerged so perfectly formed, and lost their way so dramatically, as Glaswegian septet Belle and Sebastian. Their first two albums were exquisitely moving and eloquent, their next two declined into a babble of competing musical voices that sounded as if they belonged on different records.
Their creative renaissance here can be credited to the production expertise of old hand Trevor Horn (whose recent CV includes tATu and Seal), but also to the band’s renewed sense of purpose. At last they have found a way to reconcile the multiple songwriters and hone their sprawling ambition.
Against a lush, expansive backcloth of 1960s-influenced pop, Belle and Sebastian pen elegant character sketches of the office lothario in “a smart suit and a kipper tie”, the harassed waitress and, on lip-tremblingly lavish highlight Lord Anthony, the bullied pupil instructed to “shut your mouth, start kicking the football”. Their sonic wing-stretching, especially on the tempo-shifting Step Into My Office Baby and the Clash-influenced Stay Loose, is equally accomplished. An exceedingly welcome return to form.