I'm the only person I know who likes Belle And Sebastian. And I kinda like it that way. Many a winter night I’ve sat in my cold, dark, lonely little bedroom with this album piping out of my crusty old stereo. Some albums are built to be listened to with a beery group of friends, to be sung along to at the top of your voice. This isn't one of them.
We begin with perhaps the defining Belle And Sebastian song. "The State I Am In" sets the tone for the rest of the album. Nick Drake vocals combine beautiful acoustic melodies, and fantastic Morrissey-esq lyrics. When he writes words, Stuart Murdoch gives a kind of indescribable British feeling, filling his songs with classical and contemporary references, you feel like you're in some unique club as you understand every one of them.
After all, who else would understand about the "feel from Joe the Store man" in the utterly sublime "Expectations"?? A wondrous tale of working-class teenage life, it paints an astonishingly vivid picture of rejection, of the incessant pain of normality, and of the grey, cold walks to school on February mornings.
And where the lyrics let you down, the melodies compensate. Swirling, hypnotic, but mostly just darn catchy, Murdoch is a wonderful song writing team rolled into one. He seems to be able to tap into the rivers of our everyday minds. We've all had the "coffee that tastes like washing up, we've all had days that make suicide a positive option, just like the one described in "She's Losing It".
Did I forget to mention the killer melody of "My Wandering Days Are Over"?? The self-examining realness of "I Don't Love Anyone"?? The classic program out track "Electric Renaissance"?? I'm getting exciting just writing about it.
You may think that Belle And Sebastian have made better records than this. You may think Belle And Sebastian are a fey, annoying bunch of intellectual Indie wasters. You may have stopped reading this after the first paragraph.
But, in 30 years time, when Belle And Sebastian are nothing more than an entry in a Colin Larkin book, "Tigermilk" may be rediscovered by the automated youth of the future. Let them, like us, enjoy it.
9James Westfox's Score