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Given Belle & Sebastian's eccentric way of doing things, it's hardly surprising their soundtrack to the Todd Solondz movie, Storytelling, did not work out quite as planned. Plenty of bands have written scores to imaginary movies. Belle & Sebastian, however, have composed an imaginary soundtrack to an existing movie; only six minutes of this music was actually used in the film, and plenty was completed after the film was released. The weird thing is, it all fits together rather nicely. Storytelling is a more consistent beast than the last couple of B&S albums, with no obvious moments of real shambling horror. Instead, the discipline of writing (vaguely) to order seems to have made the band perversely less uptight. So Stevie Jackson's ambling harmonica piece, "F*ck this Sh*t", is a close cousin of his beautiful work with the Bill Wells Trio--and also, explicitly, Dylan's soundtrack to Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid.
Amid the lilting instrumentals and snatches of dialogue from Solondz' fine movie, there are a clutch of quietly impressive songs. "Black and White Unite" continues Stuart Murdoch's artful reorganisation of the legacies of Love and Simon & Garfunkel, while on "I Don't Want To Play Football" he chooses to stereotype himself further as the sickly child always picked last at games. Best of all, there's "Storytelling" itself, in which Sarah Martin pursues the issues of authorial responsibility tackled by Solondz in the movie. "In directions, actions and words, cause and effect, you need consistency", she politely chastises, targeting Solondz as much as his characters. This is retribution, Belle & Sebastian style: truly, revenge has never been so sweet. --John Mulvey</P.
Given Belle & Sebastian's eccentric way of doing things, it's hardly surprising that their soundtrack to the Todd Solondz movie Storytelling did not work out quite as planned. Plenty of bands have written scores to imaginary movies. Belle & Sebastian, however, have composed an imaginary soundtrack to an existing movie; only six minutes of this music was actually used in the film, and much of it was completed after the film was released. The weird thing is, it all fits together rather nicely. Storytelling is a more consistent beast than the last couple of B&S albums; the discipline of writing (vaguely) to order seems to have made the band perversely less uptight. Stevie Jackson's ambling harmonica piece, "F*** This S***," is a close cousin to his beautiful work with the Bill Wells Trio--and also, explicitly, Dylan's soundtrack to Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid. Amidst the lilting instrumentals and snatches of dialogue from Solondz's fine movie is a clutch of quietly impressive songs. "Black and White Unite" continues Stuart Murdoch's artful reorganization of the legacies of Love and Simon & Garfunkel, while on "I Don't Want to Play Football" he chooses to stereotype himself further as the sickly child always picked last at games. Best of all, there's "Storytelling" itself, in which Sarah Martin pursues the issues of authorial responsibility tackled by Solondz in the movie. "In directions, actions, and words, cause and effect, you need consistency," she politely chastises, targeting Solondz as much as his characters. --John Mulvey
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Top Customer Reviews
I felt that this was a very solid CD from start to finish. All of the songs flowed one to the other and made sense.--Especially if you saw the film (though I didn't particularly like it). B&S are apt to tell stories as it is--listen to any song and you'll understand what I mean. I must say that I have a great fondness for B&S and may be inclined to like this a tad more; however, after DCW I can see that my loyalty is not blind. This really is a good album.
Some may feel that it drug along or that it was boring, et cetera. I thought it was beautiful, and I'm sure I'm not alone. The instrumental F*ck this Sh*t was one of my favorites--and I loved Sarah's Storytelling.--By the way, Sarah is no faux Isobel as some have said. Sarah is Sarah and she's in the band and Isobel is out.
I would not buy this album if you are not patient. I would not buy it if you thought Boy With The Arab Strap was the end all. I would not buy it as a first glimpse of B&S. I do recommend buying it if you love B&S--or can appreciate beauty.
I've seen the movie, by the way, and I hated it. The first part is apparently supposed to be a "confrontational" look at racism, but mostly it's just embarrassing. Do not rent this movie for a mixed-race group. The second part is one of those fake documentary movie-within-a-movie things which has been done hundreds of times before, and only occasionally to good effect. This is not one of those occasions.
Only a few tiny snippets of B+S music are in the film until the closing credits, when the song "Storytelling" is played. I can see why Todd Stolonz did not use much of this music. Though the band made their best attempt to sound American, they don't sound American enough for this film. At least the title of Track 4 was explained, however: The high school kid in the second part of the movie was forced to take the SAT test against his wishes, so in rebellion he spelled out the obscene phrase in large capital letters by filling in the appropriate dots on the test form. Clever.
If you're a big B+S fan, this disc should be worth your while. I think it is an improvement over the disappointing "Fold Your Hands Child..." and shows a willingness by the band to try something new. Maybe they needed to do something like this to get back on track.
On the contrary, "Storytelling" has a permanent home in my portable CD player, and it has the special ability to appeal to my parents when I play it aloud at home. The instrumentals are luscious and demonstrate the truly powerful presence of Belle and Sebastian as a group - sometimes they number 20-odd people on-stage, rather than their stated size of 7-8 performers (now down one person, I'm afraid, with Isobel's departure from the group). B&S's music often works in an amazing orchestral form, so I was happy to see what the group members can do as instrumentalists.
The humorous bits of spoken word [which I assume came from the film] were effective and fun. My favorites: "Maybe they make fun of New Jersey all the time. But I don't care. They're just snobs. Cause New Jersey's where America's at!" And: "When I go to high school I'm not going to play any football. I'm just going to concentrate on class rank." These quotes are awesome, interesting, ironic: Pure belle and sebastian (on a USA-inspired buzz).
The vocal selections are excellent as well. "Storytelling" is a great testament to and criticism of Todd Solondz. "Black and White Unite," "Wandering alone," and "Big John Shaft" work wonderfully. "I don't want to play football" IS hilarious AND charming. Whatever other people may think is fine; I think that this album works. Each piece fits together really well; the pieces flow, and I keep repeating songs over and over so that I can continue my B&S fix.
Whether or not you're a Belle and Sebastian fan I highly recommend this album.Read more ›
But...No!, 'Storytelling' is something very different indeed. You see, the Scottish collective's latest release is a film soundtrack album. Which means snatches of dialogue and, (gasp!) instrumentals. This is what makes 'Storytelling' a fascinating record. 'B & S without the lyrics? What's the point?' you may well ask. Somehow though, everybody's favourite twee Glasweigan octet just about pull it off.
Opening instrumental 'Fiction' is absolutely gorgeous. Piano tinkering gives way to quietly dominating strings that leave you feeling strangely emotional without knowing exactly why. The lazy harmonica-driven splutter of 'F*** This S***' is easily Stevie Jackson's best contribution to the band and the latin-esque 'Consuelo' wouldn't be out of place in a Martin Scorsese film, sounding dirty and mysterious.
These instrumentals are made coherent for the literary snobs (i.e. people like me) by short snatches of conversation. The dialogue features a central character who is discussing what it takes to make a film and tell a 'story'. The overall effect is one of a modern concept album, a rock opera (sort of). So what of the six 'proper' songs on the album then?. Well, they're not too good I'm afraid. 'Black and white Unite' is awful summery sludge about 'hikers hiking' and 'cyclers cycling'; not recommended.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
both a great (and massively under-rated) film and a near perfect (and overlooked) b&s record. the record really shows off b&s's abilities at creating beautiful pop... Read morePublished on May 20 2003 by Jameson Rachen
I'm a huge B&S fan, and having given this album a month of listening feel safe to express a negative opinion. Read morePublished on July 10 2002 by Alfred Viola
First things first,this a soundtrack, NOT a regular release. If you think your getting a normal release,forget it. I expected this to be a dud,but was pleasently surprised. Read morePublished on July 6 2002 by RTC
I'm not a Belle and Sebastian fan. Well, I kinda am now but I wasn't before I bought this. I bought this because I wanted the music from the film "Storytelling". Read morePublished on July 3 2002 by Morton Scelsi
Belle and sebastian have been one of my obsessions for about 4 years now. If you're feeling sinister is my benchmark for their work, so take that into consideration as you read my... Read morePublished on June 19 2002 by Amazon Customer
After the disappointment of "Fold Your Hands Child" this band needed to do two things. Take off a couple of years, write a strong album and get over the slump. Read morePublished on June 17 2002 by Winter
Speaking as one of those afore-mentioned cranky people who believe that Stuart should sing everything on a B&S album, let me say first off that I have recently changed my mind... Read morePublished on June 10 2002
Alright, I know, I'm a hardcore B&S fan, but the idea of this band so known and loved for it's lyrics doing a SOUNDTRACK? I was scared. Very scared. Read morePublished on June 8 2002
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