June 27, 2022 Belle and Sebastian – A Bit of Previous (Album Review)
One of the enduring forerunners of Indie Pop that combines Baroque elements and Modern Rock sensibilities, Scotland’s Belle and Sebastian are at it again. Formed in 1996, the collective currently made up of Stuart Murdoch (vocals, guitars, keyboards), Stevie Jackson (guitar, vocals, piano), Sarah Martin (vocals, violin, guitar, flute), Chris Geddes (keyboards, piano, percussion), Richard Colburn (drums, percussion), Bobby Kildes (guitar, bass), and Dave McGowan (bass, keyboards, guitar) returned with their new full-length album, A Bit of Previous, on May 6, 2022, via Matador Records.
Their eleventh overall studio album, A Bit of Previous consists of twelve songs self-produced and recorded by Belle and Sebastian in their home city of Glasgow. A sure treat to enthusiasts of Classical-influenced Indie music, it opens with the sweet and graceful, violin-led single “Young and Stupid.”
Later on you have the dramatic, soulful, bluesy, horn-adorned single “If They’re Shooting at You.” The mood then turns upbeat as “Talk to Me, Talk to Me” kicks in. This is before “Reclaim the Night” is a change of style–a tad cheery, a bit synthy. On the other hand the aptly titled “Do It for Your Country” plucks its acoustic disposition, only to step on the gear again with the jangly “Prophets on Hold.”
Amidst everything, other highlights include the sunny single “Unnecessary Drama.” Belle and Sebastian then returns the listener to Soul territory, with the engaging “Come On Home.” After the Folk Rock stomper “A World Without You” follows a tandem of slow ballads–“Deathbed of My Dreams” and “Sea of Sorrow.” Finally, Belle and Sebastian wrap up this current masterpiece with the glittery, atmospheric sway of “Working Boy in New York.”
Not many bands that started big with their sound are able to maintain such grandeur through the passing of time and amidst countless stylistic evolutions. Belle and Sebastian, however, continues to be a rarity in this league. A Bit of Previous is another testament of this sonic greatness and that is why Cryptic Rock gives it 4 out of 5 stars.