BELLE AND SE­BAS­TIAN Write About Love (Mada­tor Records)

Pasatiempo - - Pasa Tempos -

Fol­low­ing a ros­ter shake up in the early 2000s, Belle and Se­bas­tian scrapped the soft-spo­ken, wall­flower pop that it is still best known for and be­came one of the most eclec­tic and ex­tro­verted in­die pop groups around. On 2003’s Dear Catas­tro­phe Wait­ress and 2006’s The Life Pur­suit, the group’s sound evolved prac­ti­cally on a track-by-track ba­sis. On Write About Love, the band stag­nates a bit and seems con­tent with writ­ing about love and not push­ing the en­ve­lope. There are only slight tweaks to its 1960s pas­tiche sound here, such as the heavy ac­cent on bass and drums on the ex­quis­ite “I Didn’t See It Com­ing” and the celebrity guest vo­cals (No­rah Jones and ac­tress Carey Mul­li­gan) on two dif­fer­ent cuts. The al­bum fea­tures clear high­lights, like the carousel mo­men­tum of “I Want the World to Stop” and the cheer­ful “Come on Sis­ter.” Only “I’m Not Liv­ing in the Real World” is skip­pable. But the al­bum doesn’t quite res­onate as a whole. Song­writer Stu­art Murdoch re­lies too much on his fall­back themes (“My job stinks, so I’m go­ing to pine for this girl in­stead.”), and the band doesn’t quite dis­tin­guish it­self the way it has on in­di­vid­ual songs in the past. It’s an al­bum of sim­ple joys that, as a big fan, I’ll no doubt come to trea­sure. But no­body will con­fuse it with the group’s best work. — Robert B. Ker

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