BELLE AND SEBASTIAN We Were Beautiful gets 7/10

Belle and Sebastian
We Were Beautiful
Rough Trade/Remote Control

7/10

Liquid Belle and Sebastian, anyone? Already two and a half years on from the Eurodisco inspired sounds of 2015’s Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance, Scotland’s finest return with a typically great pop song set to, yes, a drum and bass beat.

Recorded in Glasgow and produced by the band with renowned Falkirk musician Brian McNeill, it is perhaps the first song ever to fluidly mix d’n’b with pedal steel. Something of a logical follow up to the twee indie poppers’ most electronic album to date, there’s no word yet on whether it’s from a new album, but it would make sense for this to be the first taste of something bigger.

As ever, what sets Belle and Sebastian apart from their peers are singer Stuart Murdoch’s on point lyrics. Here he is ageing gracefully, “settling our scores” and fondly reminiscing on more beautiful, sophisticated times. Still, he acknowledges “we were beautiful before we got wise” as if the trade off is a consolation at the very least.

Whether or not this slicker trade off is what Belle and Sebastian fans are hoping for will be down to personal taste, but as the triumphant trumpet rings out atop an otherwise simplistic, catchy chorus, it’s a reminder that some of Belle and Sebastian’s most noteworthy work these days has a celebratory air as if to balance out their more restrained early work. After all, we wouldn’t want them to keep reinventing the classics, would we?

HARVEY RAE

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