There appears to be a popular misconception of Belle and Sebastian that suggests they’re merely peddlers of immature, ‘twee’ pop songs. Ignoring the arguments surrounding the usage of ‘twee’, which the band themselves have argued against for many a year, this categorisation is flawed by pigeon-holing the song writing of the band in to one type of song when, in reality, lead songwriter Stuart Murdoch is capable of a great deal more than this. One need only look to the parting track ‘I’m Waking up to Us’ for band member, and girlfriend, Isobel Campbell, which is almost venomous in its portrayal of her as a self-obsessed, materialistic weight around his neck. But, then, it’s easily possible to miss the subject matter of the lyrics under the violins and twinkly twinkly piano melodies.
Of course, being able to get angry doesn’t reflect emotional depth, just that Murdoch is vaguely human. Instead, you should just look to stand out (by far) track ‘The Chalet Lines’ from critically controversial fourth album ‘Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant’ , which stands testament to Murdoch’s ability to write from perspectives that contain more than a flat-one dimensional emotional level. Whilst intensely melancholy- it’s hard to write about rape in another fashion y’now – it also tries to draw out the other emotions the character feels towards the situation, notably anger, with this duality best summed up in the line ‘Oh what’s the fucking point at all’ – despair and anger together, ultimately giving a disconcerting effect that seves one purpose: to let the listener realise that they will never be able to emphasise with the character’s emotional state.
After giving it a listen, give Electronic Renaissance (below) a play to cheer yourself up, as well as remind yourself that it’s not just the lyrics of Belle and Sebastian that get wrongly pigeon-holed.
I’m Waking Up To Us
The Chalet Lines