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The presence of Trevor Horn (the man behind Tatu and Frankie Goes to Hollywood) as producer suggested that a stylistic leap was imminent. But would it be at the cost of the group's unique charm? Thankfully not. Chief songwriter Stuart Murdoch has clearly been listening to a lot of Randy Newman and Joe Jackson, along with a touch of Thin Lizzy, and Horn manages to meld these new influences with the trademark B&S sound. "Step into My Office Baby" is orchestral pop with a cheeky, almost raucous bent. "If She Wants Me" pulls off a flirtation with Orange Juice-style funk, while "Stay Loose" could be Squeeze covering "Space Oddity". On the more traditional B&S songs (the title track, "Wrapped Up in Books", live favourite "Lord Anthony"), the ante is upped simply by the quality of songwriting, which is a match for anything from the Tigermilk glory days.
For a band whose best work seemed long behind them, Dear Catastrophe Waitress is just what was ordered. Not simply a return to form, but a bright new future. --Ian Watson
So where does that leave DCW? I bought it simply because I happened to be in a cd buying mood on the day it came out, and my expectations weren't high-- it took me a couple of days to even get round to putting it in the player. And it's not been off since.
To say that it's a return to form would be a little misleading, since they have never sounded quite like this. Although on paper teaming up with Trevor Horn sounds horrific, it is clear he and the band were thinking along the same lines. If you are sceptical about the collaboration, wait for the moment when the horns come in on 'I'm a cuckoo', and I defy you not to start grinning like an idiot.
They seem to have recaptured the ability to write great pop songs, but have been invigorated by a new direction. It's not the radical change some would have you believe, but seems to be a calculated development. This definitely recaptures the spirit of those first few releases-- buy it now!
Dear Catastrophe Waitress sees B&S move forward a decade or two in their sound and they've produced an album containing many fantastic pop songs. Really, this is what all pop music should sound like.
A couple of disappointments in 'Asleep On A Sunbeam' and 'Roy Walker', which both do little, but tracks such as 'I'm A Cuckoo' which rips off Thin Lizzy and the pacey number 'Wrapped Up In Books' with classy harmonies throughout show that B&S have progressed as a band and can maintain a high standard.
Don't believe the doubters, they're stuck in past!
How wrong I was! Since then, I have had this album on constant rotation. Stuart's songwriting is as great, if not better than ever, as are the arrangements. There are just too many standout songs to go into any great detail here. Buy this album and try not to smile as you listen to opener, Step Into My Office, Baby, and the pure pop of, I'm A Cuckoo, with it's obvious nods to Thin Lizzy.
Belle & Sebastian have come a long way from their classic debut, Tigermilk, and are sounding every bit as good for it.