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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