[81] Belle and Sebastian – If You’re Feeling Sinister

24 Oct

I recall my younger brother being a big fan of Belle and Sebastian when they first hit, but I don’t believe I had ever actually heard their music before Tom Moon insisted.  Let’s blame it on my avoidance of commercial radio throughout the latter part of the 90s.

Belle and Sebastian

Belle and Sebastian

Although in hearing this – their sophomore album – today, I’m not sure that it was getting much radio play anyway.  There doesn’t appear to be a single, an instantly catchy melody, a crowd-pleaser.

What there is instead are lyric snippets that grab your attention, suggesting that they are worthy of closer attention; subtle melodies not usually heard in Pop or Rock; and a palpable aura of restraint.

It takes time and effort to fully appreciate the insidious melodies and intriguing, subversive stories on display.  After a couple of weeks with . . . Sinister in my play rotation I am singing along at my desk, but it was not an immediate connection.

I’m not sure that in this era of disposable ringtone pop that those this music is ostensibly aimed at would bother listening even all the way through the first play.

Their loss . . .

The “hopeless unbeliever” in me was immediately tickled by the humorous, disturbing and deceptively upbeat title track, and with each new listen there is another song which catches my ear as the featherweight vocals and flowing instrumentation roll by, relentless as molasses.

And the too-cool-for-school lyrics just don’t let up, making me think, making me giggle, making me feel smarter.

The sound is somewhat unusual, initially almost disturbing – the jangly guitar and piano framework juxtaposing seamlessly with the gentle lilting vocals.  And although there are occasional glimpses of Britpop sensibilities, of an 80s Indie Rock background, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything quite like Belle and Sebastian.

After weeks of returning to this album, it has become familiar and unbelievably comforting.

It is easy to hear why Belle and Sebastian are not a household name.  It is equally apparent why they are a darling of critics, why they have such passionate fans.

On the strength of this album, you can add my name to the those who have very much drunk the Kool Aid.

Next Week:  Vincenzo Bellini – Norma

Owned before blogging? No. (9 of 81 = 11%)
Heard before blogging? No. (12 of 81 = 15%)
Recommend? Yes. (66 of 81 = 81%)

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2 Responses to “[81] Belle and Sebastian – If You’re Feeling Sinister”

  1. jofrommontreal October 24, 2014 at 5:21 PM #

    A wonderful album, their best IMO, although all of their albums from the 90’s are keepers.

  2. doronklemer October 24, 2014 at 6:12 PM #

    Seconded! Always been my favourite, hardly a weak track and so many that would probably make my all-time top 100. (The next offering, The Boy With The Arab Strap, comes in 2nd for me). All sounds about right to me!

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