|1. I Fought In A War|
|2. The Model|
|3. Beyond The Sunrise|
|4. Waiting For The Moon To Rise|
|5. Don't Leave The Light On, Baby|
|6. The Wrong Girl|
|7. The Chalet Lines|
|8. Nice Day For A Sulk|
|9. Woman's Realm|
|10. Family Tree|
|11. There's Too Much Love|
The eclectic feel of the record owes itself to the fact that this is, by far, Belle & Sebastian's most "record by committee" affair yet, with songwriting contributions from several different band members and songs that seem to have been built up from simple ideas into lush orchestral pieces with the musical input of the band's many different instrumentalists. While Stuart Murdoch still writes and sings the bulk of the material, he collaborates with bandmates on a number of songs, including the delicately soulful "Don't Leave the Light on Baby," written with keyboardist Chris Geddes. Unfortunately, songs by Belle & Sebastian cofounder and bassist Stuart David are not to be found on Fold Your Hands (he left the band during the recording). However, violinist Sarah Martin contributes her first song with the haunting "Waiting for the Moon to Rise," while cellist Isobel Campbell adds the record's most surprising track, "Beyond the Sunrise," sounding like a lost Leonard Cohen gem with its spare and fragile arrangement. Guitarist Stevie Jackson, who contributed some of the better songs on Arab Strap, manages only one on this outing, but it's one of the best: "The Wrong Girl," a tale of misplaced love juxtaposed against swinging Spector- like strings and horns. By the time the band reaches "Women's Realm," an infectious, life-affirming romp, the record's message, although never spelled out, is clear: Through all the melancholy and solitude and terrible things that could go wrong, life is still worth fighting for. --Paul Ducey
PS. The Penguin Paperback featured on the cover ("I fought in a War") is entirely fictional.
Unfortunately almost all of that wit and style are missing here. To sum up, the Stuart Murdoch songs on here are pretty good, if very gloomy; not his best but certainly not throwaways. The problem with the Murdoch songs is that they sound a lot like Belle & Sebastian "doing" Belle & Sebastian. That is, there's a certain amount of self-referential, unintentionally self-parodic stuff going on. The lyrics are not as sharp and witty and in some cases the new songs sound like old ones. "Nice Day For A Sulk," in particular, is simply a rewrite of "The Boy With The Arab Strap" slowed down with different lyrics. In short, the Murdoch songs are acceptable but not great.
The songs by the other band members, on the other hand, are largely awful. The guy with the groaning, tuneless voice and the labored classical guitar who does "Beyond the Sunrise" should immediately take up accountancy, BECAUSE I NEVER WANT TO HEAR HIM SING AGAIN. EVER. The Isobel-sung songs are hampered by her voice, which is frankly quite weak, and "Family Tree" is too wispy even to be called twee. It dissolves into inanity before it even reaches your ears. I may be in the minority but I think the band will get along fine without Isobel Campbell.
Overall this album is a real disappointment. It's scattered, unfocused, has at least one truly awful song that never should have been recorded, and even the best material on here is not up to the standards of their earlier work. Don't make this your first Belle & Sebastian purchase, and even if you are a fan, give this one a wide pass.
2--The Model: Possibly the song on the album. Good keyboards, strings, vocals, trumpet, etc. Read more