Most helpful critical review
6 of 16 people found the following review helpful
another sunny day...
on 12 February 2006
many of the reviews here lament the abscence of isobel campbell, who used to play cello for belle and sebastian. while it would be an exaggeration to suggest she was the leading creative force in the band, it is unfortunate timing that she has (together with mark lanegan) released a fantastic album just one week before 'the life pursuit'. indeed, 'ballad of the broken seas' certainly has a deep melancholic quality which used to be an integral part of belle and sebastians music but is sadly lacking here. the songwriting is, as usual, first class: every song has a memorable melody and is perfectly arranged and produced. unfortunately it is the glossy production which sometimes make their sound too glossy and professional. i don't expect the band to continue the lo-fi acoustic sound that characterised their earlier work; unfortunately on songs like 'song for sunshine' the very soul and emotion is hidden behind the cheesy, smooth production style. also, stuart murdoch seems intent on proving that he can master every different genre: glam rock on 'white collar boy', seventies soul on 'the blues are still blue', white boy funk on 'for the price of a cup of tea'. this results in the songs sounding like meaningless, shallow exercises in indulgent egoism. some of the guitar parts, incidentally, sound like they would be better suited to a bon jovi album.
despite my many criticisms of what is in my opinion their weakest album yet, it remains an enjoyable listening experience. there is only one song which i have to skip each time: song for sunshine, which is simply awful. 'act of the apostle' parts I and II are vintage belle and sebastian with brilliant lyrics, and with one of their most memorable choruses ever. equally good are 'another sunny day', which is a simple, pretty indie-pop tune; 'dress up in you', a sad and poignant tale of jealousy among actresses which is typical of stuart murdochs storytelling; 'sukie in the graveyard', another fantastic lyric matched to an upbeat, organ-driven tune, and 'to be myself completely', a sixties-style country pop number which is beautifully sung by stevie jackson.
on the whole it is a very good album - it's just that this band are capable of so much more. it is just too ridiculously happy and upbeat, it no longer involves the listener emotionally like they used to. buy it, certainly - but if you are new to the band you would be better advised to start with their earlier albums.