Belle And Sebastian
More than any of their releases to date thusfar, Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant will take a couple listens to grow on most listeners, even if they're already fans of the group. The reason for this isn't because they've gone and changed their sounds or anything like that. They haven't gone electronic or changed their style even in the slightest, but this is by far their most polished and clean sounding album to date, as well as one that doesn't have the sort of immediately catchy tracks like on previous releases.
Instead, it's an album that moves along at a sure and steady pace, rising and falling in tempo ever so slightly for a couple tracks. Perhaps the strangest thing about this new sound is that it is the combination of so many different people and their songwriting. While Stuart Murdoch is still behind the majority of the tracks, Isobell Campbell has again written a track, as well as one by Sarah Martin another by Stevie Jackson, and a collaborative track by Chris Geddes and Murdoch. So, while there is a rather large amount of people involved in the songwriting, it's probably their most cohesive-sounding release yet.
The album starts out in a fairly typical fashion, with Murdoch on almost whispered vocals for nearly half a minute before some quiet accompaniment comes in behind him. Eventually, the track fills out with quite a bit of instrumentation, but it never overwhelms. "The Model" starts out with a harpsichord and moves along in that speedier (but still about mid-tempo) fashion that makes it yet another in the long line of songs by the group that will inspire toe-tapping all around. Not only that, but the lyrics are classic Belle And Sebastian, dealing with sexual apprehension with the right amount of innocence that the group has handled so well before. "Waiting For The Moon To Rise," the contribution by Sarah Martin, sounds straight out of soft FM 70's station, but in a good way.
The group adds just the slightest touch of country flavor on Stevie Jacksons contribution "The Wrong Girl," but once again it's just a slight touch on the groups already established sound. After the somewhat silly, but still very fun "Nice Day For A Sulk" comes perhaps the albums best track. "Women's Realm" moves along with a piano, bass and drums, but it also has clapping in it. Judging strictly by the groups old songs that contain clapping, that alone should tell you how good it is, but with the alternating vocals by Campbell and Murdoch, it's definitely another winner for the group.
As mentioned above, if you enjoy Belle And Sebastian, you're probably going to like this album. They haven't changed up their style at all, but they have honed it greatly and with all the different instrumentation incorporated into the tracks, it's probably their most lush album to date. It may take awhile for things to sink in simply because the album does sound so cohesive, but as soon as it does you'll realize that the group has released another great album.