First, let me stress that Belle and Sebastian’s A Bit of Previous is mostly a joy, a largely consistent and progressive return to form from our favorite Scots. It is a look back, a step forward. Stuart Murdoch began his career in the 90’s releasing gentle Britpop that was something of a revelation. Murdoch was a songwriter of spare arrangements, sympathetic characters and tender, earnest observations. Over the years, the group added more rhythmic, slightly funky and shuffling dance notes. It was only this month that I got around to buying A Bit of Previous and on it, I may have found my new favorite Belle and Sebastian song.
A Belle and Sebastian song for every music lover
What is your favorite Belle and Sebastian song? Is it the title track from their signature 1996 album If You’re Feeling Sinister? Solid. I don’t DISLIKE “The Boy With the Arab Strap.” Now a mainstay at hipster weddings, it has its place. How about an original, like “Expectations” on debut Tigermilk? I’d also like to make an argument for “I didn’t See It Coming,” which I’ve written about before. Sarah Martin is positively divine here.
However, on A Bit of Previous, much has been made of opening track “Young and Stupid,” and its recognition of encroaching middle age: “Now we’re old with creaking bones. Some with partners, some alone.” The violin on “Young and Stupid” also reminds me of Balloon, an emo British pop group that released Gravity in 1992 and disappeared five seconds later.
Also a lot written about “If They’re Shooting at You” and its ode to suffering and the plight of people in Ukraine. I’m not a big video guy, but it’s hard not to be touched by the juxtaposition of a lovely song with images from Ukraine. Belle and Sebastian are doing something right on “If They’re Shooting at You.”
Don’t miss this forgotten song from A Bit of Previous
Finally, the Belle and Sebastian song you may have missed!
On their new album, little has been said about “Prophets on Hold,” which I think is an absolute shame. Its my favorite on an album of standouts. Has there been a better, more memorable chorus all year when Stuart sings, “…for Goooooood or angel?!”
“And I sometimes confuse you
For God or angel.
You’re just a person.
And I’m sometimes confused.
I got glory in my mind,
A soft summer unwinds.”
Even if, like me, you’re not a founding member of the Belle and Sebastian fan club, I encourage you to buy A Bit of Previous. Take a look back at some of the 90’s best Britpop, and a look forward as the band reintroduces itself once again.