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Cute Band Alert!!

Belle And Sebastian
The Boy With The Arab Strap

Just last year, the group released their excellent debut If You're Feeling Sinister on the now-defunct Enclave label. In a few short months, they released a slew of three EP's on the small European Jeepster label, then signed with Matador records for US distribution. The group seems to be gaining a fan base at quite a rate as well, having just embarked on their first US tour.

Their second full-length US release continues along the route of their first album in part, but also embarks on some new sounds for the group, and most of them work to their favor. It seems that one of the groups strong points has always been to write completely infectious pop songs composed of varying instrumentation. Even though a majority of the songs on their last album dealt with dark and troubling subjects, they sounded quite the contrary. The best sad songs always have the appearence of being happy, or so they say. This album, the themes of the songs seems to have lightened up a bit, and there are a couple tracks that don't make much sense except for as an in-joke with the band. Even at that, though, it's easy to find yourself caught up and singing right along with whatever the song happens to be. This go-around, singer Stuart Murdoch shares the vocal duties with a couple other people, and it adds to the sound of the album even more. If you enjoy well-written pop songs (minus the manufactured gloss of more radio-friendly fare), check out this album. One of the better releases of 1998.

Rating: 7.75