Top critical review
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It's good but...
on 11 October 2010
they set the bar mighty high, and Write About Love comes nowhere near reaching the heady heights of either of the their last 2 albums, and those are not even their best.
Write About Love is a perfectly enjoyable, completely worthy Belle and Sebastian album.
First, the stand outs:
I want the world to Stop / I didn't see it coming / The ghost of rockschool - these three songs alone are worth the price of this album, they do exactly what B&S do best, while seemingly effortlessly adding that special something - A sound that goes beyond just a great tune and a well written song - these songs are the 'event' songs B&S fans have been waiting for since The Life Pursuit, and they are easily the equal of stand out tracks like Another Sunny Day and Act of the Apostle from that record.
Just below the stand outs we have I'm not 'living in the real world', and the lead off single title track - and if all the rest of the tracks on the album could come up to the standard of those 2 tracks then Write About Love would jostle for the position of best ever B&S album.
So where does it go wrong? Unfortunately, the rest of the tracks, while enjoyable, are forgettable, with the exception of Norah Jones duet 'Little Lou...', which is memorable for the wrong reason - namely that Norah Jones sounds so completely out of place here, that the album suffers from the feeling that we have to stop all proceedings to politely pay homage to her voice. Any B&S fan surely thinks at this point: 'wouldn't Sarah Martin make this song so much better?', especially considering that her duets with Stuart Murdoch on the aforementioned standouts are a large part of what makes those tracks so memorable.
I haven't yet heard the 3 bonus tracks across the formats - often B&S save some of their strongest tracks for B Sides. With the death of the Bside since they last released an album, my hope is that these bonus tracks reveal themselves as a saviour for the Wrote About Love era. With Dear Catastrophe Waitress we got Your Cover's Blown as an extra track from those sessions, and The Life Pursuit era gave us the amazing Heaven in the afternoon, Meat and Potatoes, The Life Pursuit, Long Black Scarf... all these in addition to albums on which it's hard to find a forgettable track.
That's why, after a four year hiatus, I have to be slightly disappointed with the Write About Love era so far. Here's hoping those bonus tracks are as wonderful as 'I Want The World To Stop', and here's also hoping for an EP follow up of other leftover tracks in the near future.
Stuart Murdoch remains the best British songwriter around today, with the greatest band behind him - as I said before, they set the bar so so high... and Write About Love would be a five star album from any other band - but these three stars reflect its place in the Belle and Sebastian back catalogue to date.... (it's still a hundred times better than God Help The Girl!)