We have been talking a lot about Belle and Sebastian's new album, which we both like quite a bit--they are an excellent band.
I do have mixed feelings about "Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance," but with their recent interview, I'm slowly starting to clarify my position.
I floated the idea that it was a concept album a little while ago, and we originally saw it as Allie's point of view, but this interview broadened the way I saw the album. Stuart talks about using the juvenile perspective to write pop, and it works incredibly well, but they always have something more--a cleverness, a lyricism, good songwriting, and excellent production values, which are not an easy combination to achieve.
My current phrase for the album's concept is "omg, Everything sucks, except sometimes." I don't think the songs are all equally good, but I also don't think they can exist without each other. It's almost like buckshot--not everything hits the center of the target, but it's still effective.
Zach and I talk a lot about albums as cohesive works--how well does it hang together? Is it a fully realized idea? I think with "Girls in Peacetime..." we get a response/reaction instead of a closed unit, if that makes any sense. It's cohesion exists in the way all the ideas come from the mind of the same person and the self-reflexivity of the lyrics.
Here's Zach's list of best songs:
We currently disagree about "Allie". Zach finds it forced, but I find it poignant--I think. My POV changes with every listen, but that has been a consistent favorite, although I can't fault his list.
- Nobody’s Empire (Possibly the 2nd best track B&S have written)
- The Party Line (I really like their disco stuff – see also “Your Cover’s Blown”)
- Enter Sylvia Plath (I love the duets)
- Play For Today (probably the best track B&S have written; plus another duet)
- The Book of You (that nutty guitar solo – it’s so impressively cool and laid way back into the beat)
I'll close with his summation: "I think it’s maybe their best work, but not their best album."