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Belle & Sebastian - Dear Catastrophe Waitress


Review: Jack Foley

GLASWEGIAN indie favourites, Belle and Sebastian, release their sixth studio album faced with something of a dilemma by their standards.

Two founder members have departed (in the form of Stuart David and Isobel Campbell) and many music critics were asking whether the band's days were numbered.

Ironic, then, that Dear Catastrophe Waitress has arrived on a bigger wave of publicity than ever before, with frontman, Stuart Murdoch, finally emerging from the shadows, and giving interviews for the first time.

Perhaps, he felt the time was right to make a stand, or perhaps his decision stems from a newfound confidence in the music, which is evident throughout the album.

For Dear Catastrophe Waitress is a really fun listen, brimming with happy-go-lucky melodies, humour-laden lyrics and a style which recalls the sun-drenched sound of a bygone era.

In fact, you'd never guess that Belle & Sebastian hail from Glasgow, given that their sound belongs more on California's West Coast.

The album also boasts the presence of producer, Trevor Horn (Tatu, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and ABC), but anyone expecting a huge leap away from the established indie formula can rest assured that the album contains plenty of B&S trademark indulgences.

The Summery hooks are evident from the start, as opening track, and future single, Step Into My Office, Baby, recalls the sweet symphonies of the Beach Boys' Good Vibrations, while title track, Dear Catastrophe Waitress, is a comical interlude, complete with lazy horn, that tells of a despairing diner, whose coffee is going cold.

If She Wants Me, conversely, evokes memories of early Bowie, particularly in its vocal range, while the hopelessly chirpy I'm A Cuckoo hooks you from the start, with its upbeat tempo and glorious guitars.

Murdoch takes lead vocal on all but two songs, but even when he takes a back seat, the album isn't found wanting.

Asleep on a Sunbeam, as its title suggests, is a sultry, dream-like track, which effortlessly seduces the listener, thanks to its sweet female vocal (which evokes memories of The Carpenters, for instance).

And my personal favourite is Wrapped Up In Books, with its dual vocals and completely intoxicating chorus, that will almost certainly have you singing along to it shortly.

In short, this is a feelgood journey through musical nostalgia that only Belle and Sebastian are capable of providing. Fans will love it, while newcomers might just be pleasantly surprised enough to rush out and investigate the back catalogue.

Track listing:
1. Step Into My Office, Baby
2. Dear Catastrophe Waitress
3. If She Wants Me
4. Piazza, New York Catcher
5. Asleep On A Sunbeam
6. I'm A Cuckoo
7. You Don't Send Me
8. Wrapped Up In Books
9. Lord Anthony
10. If You Find Yourself Caught In Love
11. Roy Walker
12. Stay Loose

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