18 November 2013

18th November - Belle and Sebastian's If You're Feeling Sinister

Artist – Album: Belle & Sebastian – If You’re Feeling Sinister
Released: 18th November 1996
Sounds Like: A good start

Officially Belle & Sebastian’s debut, Tigermilk, was released 5 months earlier, but released seems a far too powerful word to describe that album’s issue: the album was the culmination of Stuart Murdoch’s work on a college music business course and it’s limited pressing of just one thousand copies was his final project, and so the album wasn’t so much released as stealthily snuck out. Luckily, it was just too good to slip the attention of eagle eyed (eared? Do eagles have ears??) music fans though and word spread of a terrific record that was rarer than a tasteful Miley Cyrus video.

By the time of If You’re Feeling Sinister all this goodwill towards the group had translated into a record contract (with the still terribly indie Jeepster Records) and a resolve to, you know, actually be a real band. It also was their first album in general circulation and to be covered by national newspapers, and consequently it was – for all but a privileged few – the first time anybody had heard their songs. They weren’t to be disappointed.

Each track is a triumph of wit and majestic music. ‘Me and the Major’ is a chugging tribute to the differences between generations, the title track sounds warm and comforting but it has a snide humour and candidly deals with suicide in confident manner, whilst ‘Like Dylan in the Movies’ and ‘The Fox in the Snow’ are fey and beautiful. For some time ‘Seeing Other People’ has been my favourite, with its hilarious memories of “Kissing just for practice”.

A backstory like Belle & Sebastian’s might never crop up again. Our world of Spotify and Youtube and Twitter means that it’s unthinkable that its impossible for bands today to earn the aura that the early, mysterious B&S thrived on. Further, few bands have ever released a pair of such perfect albums as Tigermilk and If You’re Feeling Sinister with their first couple of attempts. As Murdoch sums up in ‘Get Me Away from Here, I’m Dying’: “Nobody writes them like they used to so it may as well be me”

Albumaday... rating: 9/10

1.       The Stars of Track and Field – 4:48
2.       Seeing Other People – 3:48
3.       Me and the Major – 3:51
4.       Like Dylan in the Movies – 4:14
5.       The Fox in the Snow – 4:11
6.       Get Me Away from Here, I’m Dying – 3:25
7.       If You’re Feeling Sinister – 5:21
8.       Mayfly – 3:42
9.       The Boy Done Wrong Again – 4:17
10.   Judy and the Dream of Horses – 3:40
Listen to ‘Seeing Other People: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=583_nEvuRvw

Also released on the 18th November:
1974: Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
Also released on the 18th November:
1997: Modest Mouse – The Lonesome Crowded West

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