Thursday, October 14, 2010

Belle and Sebastian – Write About Love

I didn’t used to like B&S; their over sugared coyness just seemed a bit too much, and first spins of Boy with the Arab Strap and Fold Your Hands Child…, my introduction to their work, asked too much too soon. I mean, I’m okay with challenging work, but these guys didn’t even throw me a little pop kiss before asking me to seal them in a bubble and concentrate on the art, with their hushed instrumentation and effete singing. It’s been ten years since then, and a lot has changed. I’ve warmed to the cozy blanket charm of their music, and B&S have learned to add a little more rock and pure pop into their work. Write About Love: the title sounds like a blast of cuddly twee triteness, but this platter is full of well-played, lightly orchestrated, hooky pop. Yes, we’re still in a B&S bubble, but this offering would appeal to non-believers, in a good way. The needless inclusion of Norah Jones may be a ploy to pander to the Starbucks Mom demographic, unfortunately, but her ill-fitting voice doesn’t drag the whole record down, thankfully. Instrumentation, as with other recent releases, includes well-placed vintage synths and some great-sounding drums, guitar work actually slips in some tasty solos. Mastering and pressing are terrific, this is one Matador LP with no warps or other physical flaws. With such a well-presented mix of terrifically personal songwriting, full but not overdone arrangements, and pop sensibility, Write About Love is a wonderful addition to the Belle and Sebastian canon, and to the Pop Universe as well.