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Push BUY NOW to Open Your Heart!
on 13 May 2007
If you are unfamiliar with the sound of Belle and Sebastian and you are curious enough to be reading this humble review, then may I take it upon myself to suggest that this collection could serve as a very worthy introduction to the band! It gathers tracks from all their EP releases on the Jeepster label, and is absolutely chock-full of wonderful, vital music.
Disc 1 features the 12 tunes from their first 3 fantastic EPs and it is difficult to spot a duff one! There is "Dog on Wheels" with its infectious minor-key hushed vocal melody, choppy acoustic guitars and a bold mariachi trumpet break. "String Bean Jean" is perfectly simple jangly guitar pop with understated vocal harmonies. "Lazy Line Painter Jane" is a remarkable GET-OUT-OF-BED tune with echoing, Spector-esque production, boy/girl vocal interplay and gigantic flurries of hammond organ. "Beautiful"(my personal fave!) is just that: a gorgeous downtempo baroque folk masterpiece, sung plaintively by Stuart Murdoch. The trumpet solo here (underpinned by shimmering strings and reverb guitar) always moves me deeply. BEAUTIFUL indeed.
Disc 2 features all the cuts from their next 4 EP's and as such is positively RIDDLED with diverse charms. "Modern Rock Song" is a 3 chord slow burner, building on a base of acoustic guitar, adding electric, strings and brass until it crescendos with almighty vocal harmonies from Murdoch and Stevie Jackson. BLINDING. "Slow Graffiti" is another winning ballad which could almost be categorised as "indie soul". "Jonathan David" is the band doing what they do best - wrapping an intricate vocal line around a spiralling piano groove. "Marx and Engels" is almost bafflingly good - a steady beat, a gorgeous descending piano riff, twinkling organ and a predictably splendid whispered vocal from Murdoch. Musical ambrosia, to be sure.
Listening to this compilation now, it is easy to see why B+S have captured many people's imagination over the years. Many of their fans have developed unshakable obsessions with the band! Their spellbinding music and affable personalities have ensured them a devotional fanbase. For myself, on a personal level, I have often found that listening to their music has resulted in lifting my spirits and eradicating my frequent melancholy moods.
As I said at the opening of this review, if you are new to B+S, this collection is a great place to start. Be warned, however: The likelihood is that you will subsequently shell out on all of their albums and ultimately not want to listen to much else!