Indie pop icons Belle and Sebastian have returned with their ninth studio album ‘A Bit Of Previous’. The Glaswegian seven-piece had left fans eagerly awaiting new music, after seven years working primarily on side projects, such as 2020 endeavour ‘Protecting the Hive’, an audio-visual piece showcasing an aerial view of Glasgow, deserted during the first two weeks of the COVID lockdown.
It would be fair to assume that ‘A Bit Of Previous’ was a project born out of the pandemic, but more than anything, this record feels like a homecoming and a moment of reflection. All 12 tracks were recorded in Glasgow – the first time the band had recorded an album in their native city since 2000 record ‘Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant’.
Over the course of their 30-year long career, Belle and Sebastian have had a knack for creating earworms, and this record is no exception. Album opener ‘Young and Stupid’, released last month, is irrefutably catchy. The tune is carried by Sarah Martin’s angelic violin alongside all seven members signature instrumentalism.
Lyrically, Murdoch seems to be reflecting on the band’s youth. This theme of reflection is heard throughout the album. Eighth track ‘Come On Home’ is another account of previous memories, which perhaps explains the title of the record.
The instrumental arrangement heard throughout ‘A Bit Of Previous’ speaks to the talent Belle and Sebastian have long been accredited for. Fourth track, ‘Reclaim The Night,’ sees the band experimenting with synths and electronic instruments, yet still maintains the classic Belle and Sebastian flair. Neighbouring track ‘Do it For Your Country’ is another stroke of mastery, utilising a blend of guitars and gentle percussion to compliment Murdoch’s distinctive vocal.
Arguably an album highlight is seventh track ‘Unnecessary Drama’. This upbeat, energetic, feel-good tune could easily transport listeners to the early 90s when the band first emerged, yet still holds a timeless energy.
The latter half of the album is somewhat melancholic, yet maintains the upbeat style the band are accredited for. ‘Deathbed Of My Dreams’ gently serenades listeners, the flurry of instruments, led by a tender acoustic guitar, is poignant and compliments following track ‘Sea of Sorrow’, another wistful and reflective tune that is highlighted by Murdoch’s lyricism.
‘Working Boy In New York City’ is the perfect finisher. Another ode to the past, likely referencing Murdoch’s love for the Big Apple and accounting his time living in the city. It again boasts a plethora of instruments and will likely remind fans why Belle and Sebastian are so great at what they do.
Words: Isabella Miller
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