Belle and Sebastian – A Bit of Previous (Album Review)

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.

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aLfie vera mella
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Born in 1971, in Metro Manila, Philippines, aLfie vera mella is a healthcare worker, singer/songwriter, and editor/writer. He was the frontman of the ’90s-peaking Philippine Alternative Rock / New Wave band Half Life Half Death, which released a full-length album and several singles on Viva Records. aLfie worked at Diwa Scholastic Press as an editor/writer of academic textbooks and supplementary magazines, focusing on Science & Technology and English Grammar & Literature. In 2003, aLfie migrated to Canada; he has since been living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He works full-time at a healthcare institution, while serving as the associate contributing editor of Filipino Journal—a local community newspaper in Winnipeg—tackling Literature, Languages, Cultures, Lifestyles, and Music. aLfie has been a music journalist since the mid-’90s for various print magazines as well as websites. He started writing album reviews for Cryptic Rock in 2015. In 2016, aLfie published Part One (Literature & Languages and Their Cultural Significance) of his Essay Series, Can You Hear the Sound of a Falling Leaf?; in 2021, his first book of poetry, Pag-íhip sa Dáhon ng Kahápon [Blowing Leaves of Yesterday]. In his spare time, he enjoys reading books and listening to music. aLfie is a dedicated father to his now 13-year-old son, Evawwen; and a loving husband to Kathryn Mella, who herself moonlights also as a writer aside from holding a degree in Bachelor of Arts, Major in Sociology.

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