Album Reviews

Belle and Sebastian – Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance – Album Review

Belle and Sebastian

So what do we want from Belle and Sebastian’s ninth studio album, in a career that spans nearly twenty years? What expectations do we have from a new album from Stuart Murdoch et al? It’s simple really, more of the same, don’t rock the boat! So what have they delivered? Well, it is not a radical departure, but it is a side step. It essentially follows suit to what has gone before, with the exception of the dance (almost disco) orientated tracks ‘Party Line’, ‘Perfect Couples’ and the particularly nasty ‘Enter Sylvia Plath’ which hints at Eurovisions dreams. Ms. Plath deserved better to be honest. The band seem more enamoured with that particular track. When drummer James Coburn was asked for his favourite track; he named ‘Enter Sylvia Plath’, before admitting “It’s quite Europop. Just to warn you!” [Quietus] I guess it shows a more frivolous side than we are used to from the earnest Indie practitioners. By the sound of things, they’re well aware it will split their fans right down the middle. The introduction of Ben H. Allen III may have had an influence on this altered direction as he is the producer behind Cee-Lo Green and Gnarls Barkley.

The Everything Muse hints at an eastern European influence and carries itself along at a foot stomping pace. One of the best tracks on the album.

“What I would do to meet the girl, I stand out in rain.

Outside my window, watching close, she will appear again.”  – The Everything Muse

There are still the stories of young love, failed relationships (perfect couples), hints at political views (The Cat with the cream) and more than their fair share of existential angst. Their lyrics are always going to be a cut above the average, and you’ll find nuggets of charm on repeated listens.

This collection is a mixed bag, with some standard Belle and Sebastian moments and a few attempts to think outside the box. I’m not convinced these moments sit easily with the rest of the tracks. For the die hard Belle and Sebastian fans, they can no doubt do no wrong but this isn’t the type of album to draw in a new crowd. It’s not their finest hour and a few of the tracks grate, but it has its highlights. There are a few delights such as ‘Ever Had a Little Faith?’ which is a perfect moment of pop.

Track List:

1. “Nobody’s Empire” 5:08
2. “Allie” 3:16
3. “The Party Line” 4:14
4. “The Power Of Three” 3:57
5. “The Cat With The Cream” 5:17
6. “Enter Sylvia Plath” 6:48
7. “The Everything Muse” 5:25
8. “Perfect Couples” 5:29
9. “Ever Had A Little Faith?” 4:21
10. “Play For Today” 7:33
11. “The Book Of You” 4:23
12. “Today (This Army’s For Peace)”


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