Review by Eugenia Vela.
Belle and Sebastian has some of the most hardcore, loyal fans in the world. I always try to isolate myself when reviewing an album, because I don’t want my opinion to be tainted by others. But when listening to Belle and Sebastian’s latest, Write About Love, it was hard to distance myself completely. Maybe because it’s been over four years since their last release, but people were very eager for this album, more than for any other in a while, and opinions were haunting me everywhere.
Belle and Sebastian has become the kind of band that could be considered “high culture.” Ya know, like those people who claim to be Zeppelin fans cause they think it’ll make them sound interesting, or who quote The Smiths even when they have no idea what they’re talking about. The Beatles used to be low culture once upon a time, but at this moment they’ve risen to a level in which, if your kid knows who The Beatles are, you’ve done your job. Screw geography, my kid knows Lennon! Belle and Sebastian has created this sort of following over time, and when people speak of them, they do it proudly. Which is why Write About Love was a big fucking deal.
Once again, Belle and Sebastian has released a collection full of grace, quirk and personality. It’s with songs such as “Calculating Bimbo” that we’re reminded why the band took over and charmed their way into listeners’ hearts at an early stage of the indie phenomenon.
But I will say this: Write About Love fails to give the same feeling of a-ha-eureka!-fulfillment Belle and Sebastian has delivered in the past. “I Want the World To Stop” and the title track, which also includes Academy Award-nominee Carey Mulligan in the chorus, become more exhausting than uplifting, and “I’m Not Living in the Real World,” while being my favorite track in the album, actually manages to remind me more of Karen O! and the Kids instead of making me think, “See, now that’s classic Belle and S.”
It’s not until “Read the Blessed Pages” that it comes—that realization that this is, indeed, Belle and Sebastian, their beautiful lyrics and soft melodies that hold a truth for anything but boring. Write About Love is definitely not perfect. For having had four-plus years, listeners expected… I don’t know, fireworks. What we have is an album which is done better than many others could have made it—it’s beautiful, peaceful, charming, and there’s an comforting urgency in their music which loyal listeners will recognize and listen to again and again with a smile on their face. In my failed attempt to isolate myself, I heard many saying Write About Love was so cool, “Oh my Gooood I looooved it,” you know the drill. I hold my own—Write About Love is good, but I would’ve rather waited another four-plus years in exchange for something great.