Over at eating/sf, Kasey has provided instructions for preparing slow-roasted tomatoes that are exuberantly juicy and teasingly sweet. And in this way, her recipe is a good pairing for Belle & Sebastian’s 2003 Dear Catastrophe Waitress, which demonstrated a notable shift from Belle & Sebastian’s prior albums, such as their 1996 masterpiece If You’re Feeling Sinister, in that songwriter/singer Stuart Murdoch’s lyrics are more flirty and playful, his compositions are by and large more lush and orchestrated, and the recording itself is more sonically full. It isn’t better than Murdoch’s prior work, but it is pleasantly different than his prior work. More importantly, when evaluated outside the context of the band’s catalog, it is an excellent collection of refreshingly upbeat, lush pop songs. This is the type of album you’d want to listen to if you desperately need a pick-me-up sure shot.
The album opens with a little coy innuendo on the cut, “Step Into My Office, Baby.” A playfully alluring horn section that alternates between forceful and swooning is coupled with a slinking bass line to form the center of the tune as Stuart lecherously coos, “she gave me some dictation / but my strength is in administration / I took down all that she said / I even took down that little red dress.” The songs “If She Wants Me,” and “Wrapped Up in Books,” are excellent jangly and sweet cuts, the former highlighted by chirpy, clean piano and crisp organ. The surprisingly cohesive, show tune-esque “Roy Walker” is an unusual pastiche of musical elements including finger snapping, kazoo, blues-guitar, layered co-ed vocals, chimes, big band horns, harmonica and even the sounds of a bouncing ping pong ball. Nonetheless, in the culinary world, Kasey and I have learned that often the simplest recipes (such as today’s slow-roasted tomato recipe) are the best, and album highlight “Piazza, New York Catcher”, which is a gorgeous, chorus-less ballad featuring merely Murdoch’s vocals and an acoustic guitar, is evidence that the simplicity favors pop music as well. This is definitely a recommended addition to your music library. Pick it up at Insound.
Belle & Sebastian – Piazza, New York Catcher
Head back to eating/sf to read Kasey’s recipe for slow-roasted tomatoes.