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Blog: Dear Catastrophe Waitress

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I went to the record shop this morning BEFORE work, so's I could get the brand new Belle & Sebastian record. I was EXCITED, but also NERVOUS - I am one of the wary legions whose lives were entirely changed by Belle & Sebastian around when "If You're Feeling Sinister" came out (hey! I saw them in GLASGOW, WAAAY before Islington Chapel, oh yeah!), and also one of the disappointed thousands who kept buying the next three albums, despite them being... well... less good.

I mean, "The Boy With The Arab Strap"'s pretty good, and it HAS got one of my favourite of their songs on it, "Seymour Stein", which a) makes me CRY when I hear it and b) i once (and only once) performed LIVE and in concert. The other two though - I TRIED with "Fold Your Hands Child", but "Storytelling" was just pointless. Sinister, "Tigermilk" and the first 3 EPs meant SO much to me that subsequent confused, slightly lacklustre efforts made me Actually Upset by them not being as Earth Shattering as the others had been.

And, you know, they really WERE Earth Shattering. I remember going into a short-lived indie record shop opposite The Western in Leicester and getting the staff VERY excited by telling them when "Dog On Wheels" was supposed to be coming out - this was when the interweb really WAS a new thing, and I was privvy to insider knowledge about release dates just by having email at work. Everybody who's ever met me has heard this story 10,000,000 times before, but just when Sinister came out I went with about 10 other people to QMU in Glasgow to see them play with Adventures In Stereo (I was supposedly going to see the latter, really, who I quite liked, but mostly for the ADVENTURE) and a month later ALL of us had formed bands and/or started record labels. It was ASTOUNDING to FINALLY find a band who were doing "our" kind of music, and FINALLY doing it RIGHT.

It was absolutely without question the BEST gig I ever went to, so you can imagine my Confusion over the next year or so when I went to nearly every gig they did in the UK (actually, all of them except Oxford) and found them half-arsed and, frankly, a bit crap. It struck me then, as it strikes me now, that although most of the band were READY TO ROCK, there were one or two there who were... less so. It was THEY who made performances so PAINFUL with constant retuning and talking amongst the band, and it was THEIR songs on later records that passed the sign saying "TOO TWEE: GO NO FURTHER" at high speed, waving their polka dot headresses behind them.

ANYWAY, yes, so I bought the album, and it's GRATE! It sounds really different to their previous stuff, being significantly MEATIER, also BOUNCIER and EXTREMELY GROOVY. It's really really good, really self-assured, jolly SILLY in places, touching in others, and catchy as FCUK. It's just ace - currently on the fourth play of the day, bound to be on a lot more later. Well done everybody, well done!

Who knows? Stuart Murdoch might once again have need to fear the DRUNKEN HUGGING MAN who plagued so many of their earliest gigs!

posted 6/10/2003 by MJ Hibbett

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