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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars B & S go C & W!
Isn't it wonderful when a band is as consistently brilliant as Belle and Sebastian? On this, their fourth album, the band hark back to the days when songs were about craft, and not about mindless riffs or electronic bleeps. But nor are the band Luddites in their approach, and an attitude akin to the worlds that existed in Bagpuss or Playschool does not exclude their...
Published on 6 Jun 2000

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6 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hmm....not sure about this one!
Don't get me wrong, I like Belle and Sebastian a lot, I just feel that this album does not compare very well to their earlier ones. The overall quality seems a bit dubious, which is a shame, cos they are so talented. Fold Your Hands... does have its moments - some tracks you can't help but sing along to, such as The Model, Waiting for the Moon to Rise, Women's Realm,...
Published on 30 July 2003 by queenofteacakes


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars B & S go C & W!, 6 Jun 2000
By A Customer
Isn't it wonderful when a band is as consistently brilliant as Belle and Sebastian? On this, their fourth album, the band hark back to the days when songs were about craft, and not about mindless riffs or electronic bleeps. But nor are the band Luddites in their approach, and an attitude akin to the worlds that existed in Bagpuss or Playschool does not exclude their occasional nods to gritty modernism, viz "The Chalet Lines", a tune whose subject matter (rape) is chillingly clothed in sweet melody.
The band go Country and Western on us with an almost Neil Youngian sensibility on several songs, and an Ennio Morricone-type chiming bell on "Beyond the Sunrise". Added to the Nick Drake, Leonard Cohen and Simon and Garfunkel influences, B & S show what an interesting amalgam they are.
The songs found here are less instant than "If You're Feeling Sinister" and are subtle "growers" in the vein of "The Boy With the Arab Strap". If the band chose to sing up a bit, then songs such as "I Fought in a War", "Don't Leave the Light on Baby" and "Women's Realm" could make them as successful as their only contemporary near-equivalents, the Beautiful South. Compared with that group, Belle and Sebastian appear fragile, willowy purveyors of gossamer-fine melodic pop/folk/indie (and The Beautiful South are hardly Megadeth!) It is this vulnerable beauty which makes B & S so wonderful.
They're not twee, they're just too gentle for this world!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't bring myself to take the darn thing off the cd player!, 15 Sep 2000
By 
I've had this cd from day one and it just gets better and better. Only one duff song on it - Beyond the Sunrise which no matter how I try doesn't seem to grow on me. I like all B&S cds but this one is by far the best. There's too Much Love is so heartbreakingly, engergisingly optimistic that I defy anyone to dislike it. But why do the reviews above automatically assume that the narrator of The Chalet Lines is a girl? There's a man singing it, and there's nothing gender-specific in the song - and men do get raped too.
Buy this one - you can't possibly regret it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intoxicating, 26 Mar 2003
This review is from: Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant (Audio CD)
Fold your hands... Probably one of the strangest title ever used is just an equisite record. Being a big fan of B&S, I have had underated this album like many others, feeling that their magic was fading away... lacking of the bullish honest, twisted and witty lyrics of Tigermilk, the emotional depth of Sinister and the carefree soulful feeling of Arab Strap... Wondering well... what's all about fold your hands then.
Then i listened to it a few times, dropped it to put back sinister and arab strap as top of my playlists... Till i rediscovered it recently and one have to admit that the imperfections which have quietly contributed to the cult status of B&S for being what pop band should be... honest, and outside the mediatic corruption of a happy soul... ( sorry... was about to use the lyrics of the loneliness of middle distance runner as review material... shame on me!)
Well, the arrangements of Fold your hands are near perfection ( the end of "the model" is just wonderful musically...), a wonderful blend of strings, piano, flutes, horns... the still astonishing vocal perfomance of Stuart, Isobel, Chris and co.
The Lyrics then? Ok, I'll agree that If your feeling sinister, the state that I am in or Ease your feet are ( in my opinion only..) more powerful than any of the tracks... Although, overall and after having listened to this album so many times that i feel confident enough to review it, from " I fought in a war" to "there's too much love", it covers so many aspects of life, from despair, hurt, salvation, nostalgia, hopes and hopelessness... this album is just a violent ( but gentle looking ) rollercoaster ride through the ups and downs of life.
This how B&S are growing up, Fold your hands shines on how it has been blissfully constructed. A beautiful pastoral symphony.
Can't wait till the next album [.......]Buy it. You will listen to this album two years after with the same pleasure - if not more!!!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars peerless, 26 Oct 2003
By 
Nicholas - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant (Audio CD)
Probably the most charming band I can think of reach a certain level of pop perfection on this release. Admittedly I'm not fussed on beyond the sunrise, but let's not linger on that minor gripe, what about the rest of the album.
I fought in a war is a typically strong opener on a B&S album, and while it pleases it is nothing compared with don't leave the lights on or the wrong girl. Two excellent popo songs that won't leave you're head. Family tree is Isobel's charming and somewhat amusing little song near the end and is in good company with women's realm.
However the album's highpoint has to be the harrowing chalet lines which I won't go into particular detail about as I find the song to beautiful for words. Truely, you will enjoy this album...I promise
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dirty Dream Numbers 3-13, 6 Jun 2000
By A Customer
Pet Sounds clones are a dime a dozen. Every month someone, somewhere, claims unearned kudos for the latest indie fad by comparing it with the Beach Boys' 1966 masterwork. In the case of Fold Your Hands Child, however, there really is no other precedent. On the evidence of their 3 earlier efforts, Belle & Sebastian seem incapable of writing a bad tune, but here they've transcended even those illustrious early works: 11 perfectly cut pop gems, as graceful and exacting as Brian Wilson used to produce.
Comparisons will inevitably be made with the album's predecessor, The Boy With the Arab Strap. One of those songs in particular points to the new direction, 'Dirty Dream Number 2', the exquisite soul pastiche. Sarah Martin's violin works similar wonders here on 'The Model', 'Don't Leave the Light On Baby', 'Women's Realm' and 'There's Too Much Love', the sweetest string sounds imaginable, soaring and diving, wringing every nuance of heartbreak from the accompanying lyric. The same soulful vivacity infuses the rest of the album - call it, then, 'Dirty Dream Numbers 3 to 13'.
'I Fought In a War' begins like an ancient folk hymn, then carries its elegiac tone into a contemporary pop setting. The harpsichord, another new feature, seems custom-built for the B&S musical blueprint. It adds extra fervour to 'Waiting for the Moon to Rise' and propels 'The Model', the latter a classic Stuart Murdoch tale of emotional confusion, using painting as a metaphor for a dysfunctional relationship. In stark contrast is the concentrated, hesitant 'Beyond the Sunrise', which demonstrates how impeccably arranged the sound has become. Harking back to the Lee Hazlewood-Nancy Sinatra duets of the sixties, it features male and female vocal parts, choir-like backing, startlingly audible fretwork (you can hear the fingers working), church bells, and backwards guitar - all of it used sparingly, for embellishment. Understatement is the keyword in the Belle & Sebastian glossary.
It's a relief to know that someone has finally got around to following up the Smiths' 'Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now'. The song, 'Nice Day for a Sulk', hitches a jaunty, lilting rhythm to an ethereal and uplifting vocal melody. Even the soul turn itself takes a new turn, on 'Don't Leave the Light On Baby'. The singer slips between cautious regret and bitter resignation, over a haunting and soulful keyboards-and-strings refrain (if you're feeling sinister). More pointed is 'The Chalet Lines', a first-person retelling of a girl's rape, sung by Murdoch. Yet this apparently straightforward and spartan lament contains its own subtleties. Even as the sharp colloquialisms make the incident seem more harrowing, the sense of helplessness and despair cannot extinguish a spark of defiance.
The next single, 'The Wrong Girl', telegraphs the essence of the B&S sound: a melody that you've heard a hundred times before, sounding like you're hearing it for the first time, every time. And then before it's barely begun, you're ensnared in that strange, magical, unfathomable mood they seem to conjure up at will. Such pristine pop purity is rarely achieved on a single, let alone a whole album.
Can a better one possibly come out this year?
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Alarm belles!, 24 Jun 2000
By A Customer
High standards can be a burden. 'Tigermilk' and 'If You're Feeling Sinister' were virtually perfect and although 'The Boy With The Arab Strap' was more variable, it was predominantly immaculate.
Ostensibly, Belle & Sebastian don't appear to be buckling under the pressure; they remain unaffected by trends and avoid the self-promotional treadmill of interviews and touring. Yet while 'fold your hands...' far from gives the impression of a rush job to fulfil contractual obligations, on a few occasions it drifts away from the superlative standards they have set. 'Family Tree', especially the section complaining about the inadequacy of subjects taught at school, is their first descent into excruciating, hackneyed lyrical content. At least the fragility of Isobel Campbell's vocals give the rebellious sentiments a different slant. 'Nice Day For A Sulk' sees them virtually sending up their own image; self-referentiality is often indicative of a lack of fresh ideas.
These lapses are particularly frustrating as a couple of songs act as reminders of Stuart Murdoch's unique writing skills. 'The Chalet Lines' with its opening words, 'He raped me', defining its subject matter, is astonishing. Sounding like a choirboy impersonating Morrissey, his absence of histrionics gives this piano-led ballad a brutally affecting quality; no other male songwriter can portray a young woman's perspective so convincingly. No-one but Murdoch would have conceived 'The Model''s tale of artistry and sexual shenanigans. But is there a suggestion of a crisis of confidence in the lines, 'And all my friends deserted me because you painted me/ As the fraud I really was'?
Not only Murdoch's songs are worthy of admiration. Stevie Jackson's 'The Wrong Girl' captures the classic simplicity of northern soul: a chorus unburdened by excess lyricism, staccato horns embellished by heart-fluttering strings and concluding with a couple of uplifting trumpet blasts from Mick Cooke. Isobel Campbell's 'Beyond The Sunrise' is a duet that conjures visions of dust, liquor, weariness and a narrator's voice-over in a western.
The song arrangements have rarely been bettered. Chris Geddes' languid keyboards lead 'Don't Leave The Light On Baby' but the supremely timed augmentation from orchestration and backing vocals help it sparkle. A weaving flute-line gives the otherwise insipid 'Family Tree' a beguiling feature while the celebratory orchestration of 'There's Too Much Love' makes for an impeccable finale.
Had this been a debut release, it would have been heralded as a virtual second-coming. It is slightly disappointing only due to the apparent ease with which Belle & Sebastian have scattered wondrous songs throughout their career. By any other reckoning, 'fold your hands...' has many sublime moments.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can they make a bad record?, 10 Oct 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant (Audio CD)
The only bad words I can say about this record are "Nice day for a sulk", but I suppose they needed something light and easy-going after the tragic, harrowing "Chalet lines". "I fought in a war" is my favourite B&S track ever, I only wish they had written it earlier. It begins with simple vocals over a barely-heard accousic guitar, then builds via a gorgeous guitar line to a sublime, trumpet lead instrumental. The jazzy, "There's too much love" is brilliant as well, "Beyond the sunrise" and "Don't leave the light on baby" are less accessible but very good all the same. I can't say whether it's better or worse than their last album, because they're very much different records. This is just a peach of an album.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I'm brutal, honest and afraid of you"., 29 Sep 2000
By A Customer
The sleeve notes to this album highlight the youthful ideals of Glasgow hipsters being put to the test "when they come up against the commercial world and the awakening activity of everyday life". The conflict between ideals and reality, a recurrent theme in earlier Belle and Sebastian releases, is central to "Fold your hands child, you walk like a peasant." In 'Women's Realm', an artfully arranged Murdoch and Campbell duet, Murdoch sings "It would take a left wing Robin Hood to pay for school/Your Dad's a boozer and you keep him alive." The legendary figure is given a political label and put in a context of modern day poverty and alcoholism far from the romance of Nottingham Forest. And of course, no such hero really exists. In 'Beyond The Sunrise', a slow-paced and almost Biblical Jackson and Campbell duet, the character Joseph's dreams are broken, and he dismisses an invitation to taste hope in a temptress's skin and "faith with the dawn" as a liquor-induced dream. The song, on the first few listens, sounds out of place, gruff and laborious, and it takes several listens to appreciate its originality and effectiveness at evoking a hazy, archaic atmosphere. The singer in 'Don't Leave The Light On Baby' is stuck in a failing relationship, resigned to bloody stupid days and conceding that it's "best to go down without a fight" He is overawed when a friend comes back from abroad rich. Such opportunities do not seem to be open to him. And yet he can find simple pleasure in watching a sunset. Most poignantly, Murdoch's character in the opening track 'I Fought In A War' thinks of a love back home while he has to endure "a corpse that just fell into me, with the bullets flying round". He imagines her "making shells back home for a steady man to wear/Round his neck", a devastating image - while seashells may make a pretty necklace, the song's context makes it impossible to avoid the sense of "shells" as explosive shells, and a feeling that his contemplation of his lover with another man is as destructive for the narrator as the battle he is in the middle of. 'The Chalet Lines', following the pop brilliance of 'The Wrong Girl' (and even this uplifting song is about the singer not finding his darling except in the back of his mind, and indeed having the wrong dream on his mind), is stark and disturbing. With minimal musical accompaniment, Murdoch sings from the point of view of a rape victim. The fact that lines such as "I missed my time, I don't think I could stand/To take the test" are sung by a man, even a man with such a gentle voice, makes them all the more terrifying. Whether or not he succeeds in expressing the thoughts of a rape victim can only be known by those who have suffered that atrocity, but the is as sensitive and understatedly tragic as anything Belle and Sebastian have done before: "Her face was just a smear on the pane". Much of the album is melancholic in tone, especially the whimsical 'Waiting For The Moon To Rise', Sarah Martin's first song for the band. However, there is also a tone of suppressed aggression. Murdoch proclaims himself a fraud in 'The Model' and positively wants to cause offence in the absolutely outstanding closing track, 'There's Too Much Love'. He imagines coming to blows and ending face down on the ground. It also takes a lot of boldness to begin a song "I don't care whether you hear this", as he does 'Women's Realm'. However, he also insists on his honesty in expressing his emotions, and the album's closing lines "I'm brutal, honest and afraid of you" conclude it magnificently. The upbeat orchestrial finale detracts from the direct confessional nature of 'There's Too Much Love', and indeed the whole album.
It's not perfect. 'Nice Day For A Sulk' is too slight, and the lyrics to 'Family Tree' too sixth-form, but these are still perfectly listenable. In general, the songs are varied, yet unified, and incredibly addictive. Musically and lyrically, Belle and Sebastian are the most accomplished band around.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Just Superb, 12 Dec 2008
This review is from: Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant (Audio CD)
I have all theoir other records but only just got around to picking this one up and - wow....
The sleeve notes highlight the youthful ideals of these Glaswegians being put to the test "when they come up against the commercial world and the awakening activity of everyday life". The conflict between ideals and reality, a recurrent theme in earlier Belle and Sebastian releases, is central to "Fold your hands child, you walk like a peasant." In 'Women's Realm', an artfully arranged Murdoch and Campbell duet, Murdoch sings "It would take a left wing Robin Hood to pay for school/Your Dad's a boozer and you keep him alive." The legendary figure is given a political label and put in a context of modern day poverty and alcoholism far from the romance of Nottingham Forest. And of course, no such hero really exists. In 'Beyond The Sunrise', a slow-paced and almost Biblical Jackson and Campbell duet, the character Joseph's dreams are broken, and he dismisses an invitation to taste hope in a temptress's skin and "faith with the dawn" as a liquor-induced dream. The song, on the first few listens, sounds out of place, gruff and laborious, and it takes several listens to appreciate its originality and effectiveness at evoking a hazy, archaic atmosphere. The singer in 'Don't Leave The Light On Baby' is stuck in a failing relationship, resigned to bloody stupid days and conceding that it's "best to go down without a fight" He is overawed when a friend comes back from abroad rich. Such opportunities do not seem to be open to him. And yet he can find simple pleasure in watching a sunset. Most poignantly, Murdoch's character in the opening track 'I Fought In A War' thinks of a love back home while he has to endure "a corpse that just fell into me, with the bullets flying round". He imagines her "making shells back home for a steady man to wear/Round his neck", a devastating image - while seashells may make a pretty necklace, the song's context makes it impossible to avoid the sense of "shells" as explosive shells, and a feeling that his contemplation of his lover with another man is as destructive for the narrator as the battle he is in the middle of. 'The Chalet Lines', following the pop brilliance of 'The Wrong Girl' (and even this uplifting song is about the singer not finding his darling except in the back of his mind, and indeed having the wrong dream on his mind), is stark and disturbing. With minimal musical accompaniment, Murdoch sings from the point of view of a rape victim. The fact that lines such as "I missed my time, I don't think I could stand/To take the test" are sung by a man, even a man with such a gentle voice, makes them all the more terrifying. Whether or not he succeeds in expressing the thoughts of a rape victim can only be known by those who have suffered that atrocity, but the is as sensitive and understatedly tragic as anything Belle and Sebastian have done before: "Her face was just a smear on the pane". Much of the album is melancholic in tone, especially the whimsical 'Waiting For The Moon To Rise', Sarah Martin's first song for the band. However, there is also a tone of suppressed aggression. Murdoch proclaims himself a fraud in 'The Model' and positively wants to cause offence in the absolutely outstanding closing track, 'There's Too Much Love'. He imagines coming to blows and ending face down on the ground. It also takes a lot of boldness to begin a song "I don't care whether you hear this", as he does 'Women's Realm'. However, he also insists on his honesty in expressing his emotions, and the album's closing lines "I'm brutal, honest and afraid of you" conclude it magnificently. The upbeat orchestrial finale detracts from the direct confessional nature of 'There's Too Much Love', and indeed the whole album.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars sublime, 23 Dec 2005
This review is from: Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant (Audio CD)
this is the first belle and seb album i listened to, and upon relistening, i realised just how unique they are. you have gritty, and sometimes violent, issues juxtaposed with such a melodic sweetness you would be forgiven for being swept away by it all. so much more than an 'indie' band.
divine!
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Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant
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