Belle and Sebastian – How to Solve Our Human Problems (Part 2) (EP Review)

Belle and Sebastian – How to Solve Our Human Problems (Part 2) (EP Review)

This past December, Belle and Sebastian released Part One of its promised trilogy of EPs, collectively titled How to Solve Our Human Problems. Its throwback to the Scottish Indie Pop band’s penchant for ’60s Baroque Pop and ’80s Indie Pop has definitely titillated the band’s punters and followers, causing them to crave for the rest. Now, the wait is over—at least for Part Two.

Coming out on January 19, 2018, via Matador Records, How to Solve Our Human Problems, Part 2, notably shifts the gear higher from the finesse and grace of the last one—which is just fitting, for the sonic flight is already on its second stage. The opening track, “Show Me the Sun,” bursts out giddily like a jack-in-the-box, taking the mesmerized listener by the hand, back to the aural realms of her happy childhood. Then, the sunny bright ebullience continues on with the upbeat “Same Star,” whose twinkly, starry keyboard melodies; jangly guitars; prancing bass; string and woodwind orchestration; as well as male-female vocal interplay return the listener to even more familiar terrains—a bit Indie, a tad Motown.

Belle and Sebastian turns dreamy once again with the fairly slow rhythm of the wistful and wishful, sparkly-eyed ’60s Pop–styled “I’ll Be Your Pilot,” which, according to Bandleader Stuart Murdoch, was inspired by his three-year-old son and the 1943 novella The Little Prince by the French author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

With “Cornflakes,” Murdoch and the rest of the collective then throw the confetti onto the dancefloor, adorning the atmosphere with their groove and glitter of ’60s Psychedelia, Funk, Doo-Wop, and ’80s Electroclash.

Finally, the authors behind Belle and Sebastian’s latest Indie Pop masterpiece—Murdoch (vocals, electric and acoustic guitar, keyboards), Stevie Jackson (vocals, electric and acoustic guitar), Chris Geddes (keyboards), Richard Colburn (drums, percussion), Sarah Martin (keyboards, electric and acoustic guitar, violin, flute, vocals), Bobby Kildea (guitar, bass), and Dave McGowan (bass, guitar, keyboards)—wrap up the second part of their narrative with the dark, haunting, grandiose lullaby “A Plague on All Other Boys.”

With how intricately structured and ornately arranged the songs in this new EP—which is, after all, Belle and Sebastian’s trademark—the listener might have felt that she was listening to a proper full-length album. Nonetheless, while the experience is certainly satisfying, she should suppress some of her excitement in anticipation of the third and final installment to this series of wonderful new offerings. In the meantime, savor the splendor of How to Solve Our Human Problems, Part 2. CrypticRock gives it 5 out of 5 stars.

Purchase How to Solve Our Human Problems (Part 2):

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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. As a means to further his passion for music, he formed the band haLf man haLf eLf. He now performs with another band, The Psychedelics. aLfie has been a music journalist since the mid-’90s for various print magazines as well as websites. He began writing album reviews for CrypticRock 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? His next planned literary endeavor is to publish the remaining parts of the anthology and his works on Poetry, Fantasy Fiction, and Mythology. In his spare time, he enjoys reading books and listening to music. He participates at various community events; and he explores the diverse cultural beauty of Canada whenever his schedule permits it. aLfie is a doting and dedicated father to his now ten-year-old son, Evawwen.

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