For years, Belle and Sebastian had been like a hidden gem that just needed to be dusted off and cleaned. While I many have disagreed with their switch of style, and wasn’t really a fan of much of their work since If You’re Feeling Sinister, their new producer, Ben H. Allen, took this aspiring indie pop group and cleaned up their act. As much as I wanted to pan this album, like I had everything since If You’re Feeling Sinister, I have to say that it finally works.
While Belle and Sebastian had just added little elements of pop into their already working formula for The Boy With the Arab Strap, Dear Catastrophe Waitress, and The Life Pursuit, it still seemed like there was something lacking through all of that for 6 years. Now, 9 years after The Life Pursuit, and 5 since Write About Love, their 9th studio album, Girls in Peacetime Just Want to Dance, just might finally hit the mark.
Why? Because they went full disco. Not like, Nile-Rodgers-Daft-Punk-Get-Lucky-Disco, or Saturday-Night-Fever-Disco, but a subtle, new Belle ans Sebastian disco, accompanied by strings and synth production from Ben H. Allen, bring his influence from groups like Deerhunter and Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavillion Tour. Allen gives the group the groove that their pop was missing. Thus, Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance, comes off a bit like disco, dance music. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for Belle and Sebastian to show their classic Glasglow twee side as well.
Tracks like, “The Cat with the Cream,” “Ever Had a Little Faith?,” and “Today (This Army’s for Peace),” combat the politically and socially aware dance party that encompasses the rest of the record. Sure, the band has hiccups as it always does, like when Murdoch passes off the microphone to his band mates, (though Sarah Martin on “The Power of Three” was alright), but it all together sounded like they were comfortable. Murdoch’s songwriting seems to match the new style quite easily, and his political opinions creep in more then they ever have on one of his records before, but Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance is charming and seems to land Belle and Sebastian flat-footed on their new path.