PASA TEM­POS

al­bum re­views

Pasatiempo - - PASA TEMPOS -

BELLE AND SE­BAS­TIAN G irls in Peace­time Want to Dance (Mata­dor Records) Nearly 20 years into their ca­reer, the mem­bers of Scot­tish indie-pop band Belle and Se­bas­tian re­main full of sur­prises. Their lat­est al­bum, the long­est to date, is their first one with­out a sin­gle weak track. This is an im­pres­sive ac­com­plish­ment, con­sid­er­ing the mu­si­cians’ ré­sumé, which in­cludes such clas­sics as 1996’s If You’re Feel­ing Sin­is­ter and 2006’s

The Life Pur­suit . Fur­ther­more, Girls in Peace­time draws from all phases of Belle and Se­bas­tian’s his­tory. “No­body’s Em­pire” is so­phis­ti­cated, jan­gly pop and “The Cat With the Cream” uses gen­tle north­ern soul to tell an ob­ser­va­tional tale of ado­les­cence — hall­marks of the band’s early days. Mean­while, “The Party Line” and “En­ter Sylvia Plath” are up­tempo disco num­bers that flex the ex­tro­verted mus­cles of the band’s more re­cent years. Belle and Se­bas­tian also un­corks a few new tricks, in­clud­ing a bois­ter­ous Rus­sian folk-dance theme in the cho­rus of “The Ever­last­ing Muse.” Through­out, the main­stay is the sharp writ­ing of Stu­art Mur­doch, who tells sto­ries so vividly he comes across as a one-man film crew, with set designing, photography, writ­ing, and act­ing all cov­ered. If you’re an as­pir­ing song­writer, you could do worse than study him: Songs like “Play for To­day” weave male and fe­male vo­cals with ’80s synth-pop in­stru­men­ta­tion, turn melodies in on them­selves, crescendo with ease, and of­fer lyri­cal sub­stance. It’s flaw­less pop songcraft. — Robert Ker

TRIO LÉZARD Paris 1937 (Coviello Clas­sics) Could there be a disc of wood­wind cham­ber mu­sic more de­light­ful than this re­lease from the Trio Lézard, an en­sem­ble of three Ger­man vir­tu­osos? The play­ers as­sem­ble short works by 10 com­posers, all French ex­cept for a few for­eign­ers who were popular in Paris. Ev­ery­thing pretty much dates from 1937, a mo­ment less ram­bunc­tious than the Roar­ing Twen­ties but still al­low­ing for a large mea­sure of good hu­mor be­fore the Nazis started el­bow­ing their way through Europe. The per­form­ers first got to­gether in 1990 as an en­sem­ble com­pris­ing oboe, clar­inet, and bas­soon, but they all dou­ble on other wood­winds: On this CD they divide their tal­ents among nine oboes, clar­inets, sax­o­phones, and bas­soons of dif­fer­ent sizes, yield­ing sonic sur­prises at ev­ery turn. They of­fer this re­lease as a trib­ute to the Trio d’an­ches de Paris (Reed Trio of Paris), an ac­claimed, muchrecorded en­sem­ble of the ’30s. The playlist in­cludes names that have largely fallen into ob­scu­rity, such as Jean Rivier, Mau­rice Franck, Pierre-Oc­tave Fer­roud, Stan Golestan, and Émile Goué (who died young in a con­cen­tra­tion camp). There’s not a track that doesn’t earn its keep. So­phis­ti­cated in­sou­ciance in­fuses each of the pieces, and the pe­riod style is car­ried through in four new ar­range­ments of songs that scored hits for pop croon­ers Charles Trenet and Jean Sablon. This hour­long recital will turn ev­ery frown around. — James M. Keller

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