Tuesday, December 1, 2009

CD Odyssey Disc 61: Belle and Sebastian

The next entry on the Odyssey has a great album name.

Disc 61 is...Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant

Artist: Belle & Sebastian

Year of Release: 2000

How I Came To Know It: I was actually bought a Belle & Sebastian album for my birthday seven or eight years ago. This album (for brevity's sake I'll call it "Fold Your Hands") is me drilling through their back catalogue.

How It Stacks Up: I have three of Belle & Sebastian's albums. I think this one is definitely third on this list. I'd like to get Tigermilk, as I don't have that one, but I haven't been keen of late, and have been going in a different direction.

Rating: 2 stars with a thumbs up.

Belle & Sebastian are a band from Scotland, and in the oughts are one of the chief musical exports from that country. In the indie/pop genre they seem to be a pretty big thing, since most music lovers know who they are, despite my never hearing them on the radio.

Then again, I never listen to the radio, so who knows if they are on it. I hope not.

I like this band because they have a cool mix of poppy upbeat songs with lyrics that are at times disturbing.

Consider a flighty pop song like "The Chalet Lines". The song is so gentle it might be a few listens before you really pick up on the lyrics. You start to hear them, and they go something like this:

"He raped me in the chalet lines
I had just said no for the final time
Although it's last month it's like yesterday
I missed my time, I don't think I could stand
To take the test, I'm feeling sick
Fuck this, I've felt like this for a week
I'd put a knife right into his eyes."

Actually, they're not something like that - that's them exactly. Yikes.

Visually, Belle & Sebastian album covers always remind me of Jones Soda bottles; they seem to have no connection with either the band. Just some random photo. See the young, sleep deprived girl above, clutching her book in the mirror. Why? Why? There is no right answer.

On the back of "Fold Your Hands"' liner notes there is another photo (couldn't find it online) featuring a bunch of folks dressed in 30s clothing, as well as a guy in a gorilla suit holding a platter. The picture's caption reads, "Please don't let them make me a monkey butler."

I don't know exactly what they're getting at, but at face value, I agree. No one wants to be forced to be a monkey butler. The suit is hot, and the pay is probably low. Also, you are probably blamed for breaking the china, even though it slips from your fingers because you are wearing a monkey costume. But I digress...

Anyway - somewhere between Kris Kristoffersen's constant decision to have only a giant picture of his head on his albums, and Belle & Sebastian's decision to choose detached arty photos of no particular purpose, I am sure the truth lies.

To return to this particular album, it is by far the most dark of the three I have. I don't mind the dark, it is all part of the experience of this band, and it makes them better.

However, "Fold Your Hands" is a little uneven, and for every strong pop track there is a song that veers into the weird but loses some quality in the process.

That said, there are many good tracks on the album, and it is worth a listen or two or three. If the lyrics creep up on you, don't be alarmed - they are creepy. It is meant to be that way.

Best tracks: I Fought In a War, Don't Leave The Light On Baby, The Wrong Girl, The Chalet Lines, Women's Realm

1 comment:

Sheila said...

The cover is actually two girls (one has makeup on, one doesn't). You can see that they are touching, and see the shadows of their books on the one girl.

I don't know this album at all, but I like B&S's sound.