Plumbiferous Media

Write About Love – Belle and Sebastian

Oct 14th 2010
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Write About Love - Belle and SebastianBelle and Sebastian
Write About Love
Score: 81

Four years after the release of seventh LP The Life Pursuit, quintessential Glasgow twee band Belle and Sebastian has released its newest album, Write about Love. Write about Love is a bit of a change for Belle and Sebastian – more sonically involved, in a departure from the laid-back but complex tone that has distinguished the band’s music since its founding. And so perhaps Write about Love doesn’t sound quite like much of the band’s earlier work, but it’s definitely Belle & Sebastian – and in its own right, it’s certainly an interesting album.

What has always distinguished Belle and Sebastian was its ability to sound entirely pleasant and laid back, no matter how complicated the music was (and it was often extremely complicated), and no matter what the lyrics contained. The enjoyability is still present on Write about Love, just with less of the rest. Only a few tracks of Write about Love, most notably “I Want the World to Stop” and “Write about Love” are truly complex, containing more than two or so complimentary lines, interacting perfectly to push the music from enjoyable to outstanding.

The rest of the tracks are, unfortunately, very simple tunes. They may still be nice to listen to, and they are, but they’re nowhere near the level of those few excellent tracks. Combined with lyrics that, though initially wonderful are occasionally overused, too much of Write about Love is underwhelming. Overall, the album is simply not Belle and Sebastian at its best. It’s clearly trying, but only a few sections of the album can truly be considered amazing. Write about Love is still good, just not Belle and Sebastian good.

Frontman Stuart Murdoch, as usual for the majority of Belle and Sebastian’s music, takes on the task of producing Write about Love‘s vocals. Murdoch’s voice is as bright as always, only accentuated by the rather high level of energy running through Write about Love. Increased energy aside, Murdoch hasn’t lost a bit of the deep emotional vein in his voice, and the combination works quite well throughout the album. Murdoch is joined both by bandmate Stevie Jackson, whose bright voice is a nice contrast to Murdoch’s, and quite surprisingly by Norah Jones on “Little Lou, Ugly Jack, Prophet John”, where she and Murdoch share an able duet.

Write about Love may sound a bit different from some of Belle and Sebastian’s older fare, but the lyrics are in the band’s familiar tone. Well-written, occasionally tongue-in-cheek, emotionally invested words are the focus of Write about Love, and unsurprisingly it works. Whether it’s the humorously poetic “Write about love / It can be in any tense / But it must make sense,” or just “I want the world to stop,” Murdoch and the rest of Belle and Sebastian have done an excellent job writing lyrics that not only match up brilliantly with the sound of Write about Love, but with the standard they’ve set for themselves over the years.

Write about Love is a significant development for Belle and Sebastian. First off, the band is once again producing albums. Continuing from there, Belle and Sebastian is continuing in evolving a more theatrical sound, a project initiated with the move to the Rough Trade label. But Write about Love simply isn’t another Dear Catastrophe Waitress. Belle and Sebastian is as pleasant to listen to as ever, just without quite a bit of the deeper elements that allow Belle and Sebastian to be as musically interesting as it is listenable.

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