Along with all the other Belle and Sebastian's EPs from the band's years signed to the Jeepster label, 3-6-9 SECONDS OF LIGHT was reissued on the two-CD collection Push Barman to Open Old Wounds. However, the 19 minutes of material on this 1997 release is so strong that 3-6-9 SECONDS OF LIFE merits an individual consideration. Like all of Belle and Sebastian's early work, the songs "A Century of Fakers", "La Pastie de la Bourgeosie", "Beautiful" and "Put the Book Back on the Shelf" are twee pop with relatively low-fi production.
In spite of the jangly instrumental goodness, "A Century of Fakers" contains some of Stuart Murdoch's most biting lyrics: "There are people going hungry far away / They've got nothing on their plates / And you're filling your fat face / With every kind of cake. / If you ever go lardy or go lame / I will drop you straightaway. / That's the chance you've got to take / For every stupid thing you say."
"La Pastie de la Bourgeosie", which takes its name from a Glasgow graffiti on the walls of a bakery, is one of Murdoch's songs on the difficulties of fitting in as a teenager: "Sunbeam shine, mousy girl in the end pew. You'd stay home, oh if only I'd let you ... You're too tall, much too tall for a boyfriend / They run and hide from your buck teeth and split ends" and ultimately morphs into a celebration of the sense of freedom that reading Kerouac can instill. This intricately scored, virtuosic song remains one of the band's live favourites over 15 years after they recorded it here.
"Beautiful" is the sparsest track on the EP, initially just Stuart Murdoch and his guitar. Again the lyrics are a psychological study of a girl in trouble (which also alludes to Murdoch's open-mic days under the name "Lisa Helps the Blind"). Isobel Cambell's cello and Mick Cooke's trumpet are prominent.
"Put the Book Back on the Shelf" is another sparse track, the closest in spirit (and production) to the If You're Feeling Sinister album of the same year. Isobel Campbell backs Murdoch on vocals with lovely effect. Mick Cooke again plays trumpet. At the end of this song, after a few seconds of silence, the rest of track 4 is filled out by Murdoch's home demo of a song about the Belle and Sebastian characters that gave the band its name.
Unlike many other Belle and Sebastian EPs (or any band's EPs in general), the B-side features no sub-par tracks, ambient noodling or the band goofing off. It's all top-drawer work, and just as strong as the band's strongest full-length albums.