For their fourth and most cleverly titled album, Glasgow's fey folk-popsters Belle & Sebastian have constructed another 11 songs that at times reach into new musical and lyrical areas. Following secondary composer Stuart David's departure, de facto leader Stuart Murdoch divides the songwriting chores among the other members; yet what's apparent is the single-mindedness of Belle & Sebastian's song focus.
The overall mood is even softer and more precious (if that can be believed) than their previous efforts. Murdoch and Chris Geddes' "Don't Leave The Light On Baby" is the band's attempt at a '70s soul ballad, a Wurlitzer adding a Music-of-My-Mind vibe to a lovers' dissertation. Isobel Campbell's "Beyond The Sunrise" is biblical Celtic-prog-folk, all flutes and acoustic guitar, while Jackson's own "The Wrong Girl" is an upbeat, country-ish lament with typically soulful Belle & Sebastian strings and trumpet giving the song an understated melodic kick. Of course, Murdoch contributes a classic or two--"I Fought a War" is a gentle away-at-the-battlefield tale imbued with the greatest sense of dread Murdoch's ever given a song. And "Woman's Realm" is the kind of pop stomper ARAB STRAP was packed to the gills with, highlighted here by its increasingly quiet surroundings.
Belle & Sebastian are Isobel Campbell, Richard Colburn, Mick Cooke, Chris Geddes, Stevie Jackson, Sarah Martin, & Stuart Murdoch. ‘Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant’ is their 4th album. Like the other three, it was recorded at CaVa Studios in Glasgow, and, like the last two, recorded by Mr. Tony Doogan. Errant bassist Stuart David has left the fold — strange timing, considering he had finally mastered the art of turning the pages of a book with his feet, thus eliminating the need to stop playing while he was reading. He plays on most of this album.
“I Fought In A War” was written by Stuart M. It should be noted that this is a work of fiction, and questions regarding Stuart’s involvement in this supposed war should be avoided.
“The Model” is also a Stuart song. It is unclear whether there really is a “Girl next door who’s famous for showing her chest.” As his home is sandwiched in-between a Scout Hut and a nursery, it seems unlikely. Perhaps he means further down the road. If so, he’s kept it bloody quiet until now.
“Beyond The Sunrise” was written by Isobel. It is the third of her songs to be on a B&S record, and the first to feature Tubular Bells--in keeping with the rumors that Yes albums were spotted in the studio during recording.
“Waiting For The Moon To Rise” is Sarah’s first songwriting contribution to B&S. Let’s hope it’s the first of many.
“Don’t Leave The Light On, Baby” is a joint effort between Stuart & Chris — Wee Beans did the slinky Wurlitzer part & Stuart wrote the lyrics. The string arrangement comes courtesy of Mick, Stevie & Beans. One for the ladies.
“The Wrong Girl” is a Stevie number. It’s been part of the live set for a while now, but has been transformed with the addition of strings. You know it must be good when the notoriously self-effacing Stevie let it go on the album. On a happier note, since writing the song, Stevie has found what we believe to be the right girl.
“The Chalet Lines” is another Stuart number. It’s quite slow and sad.
“Nice Day For A Sulk” is also Stuart’s. When I saw that written in Isobel’s diary I didn’t realize it was a song, and presumed it was just her schedule for that day. As it turns out, it’s a short, poppy number, with Beans providing the Blackpool Funfair organ.
“Woman’s Realm,” another Stuart effort, will doubtlessly be labelled as a “stomper.” It’s got a big string thing going on, and I believe the Tubular Bells managed to worm their way on again, despite it’s distinctly un-prog mood.
“Family Tree” is written by Stuart & sung by Isobel. It’s been played live once before, but will be a new experience for anyone outside Dublin. Foxy, the chef at Nice’n’Sleazy’s, took a break from the fajitas to do some twiddly flute. Again, Stuart wasn’t literally thrown out of school, though he wasn’t so lucky when he tried University. 3 times.
“There’s Too Much Love” is Stuart’s final contribution & the last song on the album. Another dancey number, its most notable feature is Stevie’s impression of a choir of angels doing “Steve Harley and the Cockney Rebel.”
Reviews...The record plays with the stereotype of B&S as wibbling fey-fop lollipops....upholstered with overdubs, strings, and, quite literally, bells and whistles, like a Colonial Williamsburg take on circa-'68 lite-pop... - Spin