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Belle and Sebastian - The Boy With The Arab Strap

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The Boy With The Arab Strap

Belle and Sebastian

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Belle & Sebastian quietly built a dedicated following after the release of their second album, If You're Feeling Sinister, as word of mouth spread from indie kids to record collectors to store clerks to critics. By the end of 1997, the Scottish septet had developed a following every bit as passionate as the Smiths did at their peak, which is only appropriate since leader Stuart Murdoch is as wittily literate as Morrissey. If You're Feeling Sinister proved this as did the three excellent EPs that followed, increasing expectations for The Boy With the Arab Strap. Even if the album doesn't match the peerless If You're Feeling Sinister or break new ground for Belle & Sebastian, it's not a sophomore slump. From the Motown stomp of "Dirty Dream Number Two" to the Paul Simon shuffle of the title track, there is more musical texture on Boy than Sinister, but much of this was already explored on the EPs, which means Arab Strap essentially consolidates the group's talents. Murdoch recedes from the spotlight on occasion, letting Steve Jackson deliver two music-biz spiels and giving Isobel Campbell space to shine with the lilting "Is It Wicked Not to Care?" All three songs are highlights, but Murdoch's songs still attract the most attention. His vicious wit, often overlooked in favor of his poetic narratives, surfaces on the title track, while "It Could Have Been a Brilliant Career" summarizes his effortless gift for elegant melancholia. Such small, precious gems are what Belle & Sebastian are all about, and The Boy With the Arab Strap offers another round of timeless, endlessly fascinating folk-pop treasures.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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The Boy With The Arab Strap

Belle and Sebastian

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1
It Could Have Been a Brilliant Career
00:02:23

Belle and Sebastian, Performer - Stuart Murdoch, Composer, Writer

1998 Jeepster Recordings Ltd 1998 Jeepster Recordings Ltd

2
Sleep the Clock Around
00:04:58

Belle and Sebastian, Performer - Stuart Murdoch, Composer, Writer

1998 Jeepster Recordings Ltd 1998 Jeepster Recordings Ltd

3
Is It Wicked Not to Care?
00:03:22

Belle and Sebastian, Performer - Isobel Campbell, Composer, Writer

1998 Jeepster Recordings Ltd 1998 Jeepster Recordings Ltd

4
Ease Your Feet in the Sea
00:03:35

Belle and Sebastian, Performer - Stuart Murdoch, Composer, Writer

1998 Jeepster Recordings Ltd 1998 Jeepster Recordings Ltd

5
A Summer Wasting
00:02:06

Belle and Sebastian, Performer - Stuart Murdoch, Composer, Writer

1998 Jeepster Recordings Ltd 1998 Jeepster Recordings Ltd

6
Seymour Stein
00:04:42

Belle and Sebastian, Performer - Stevie Jackson, Composer, Writer

1998 Jeepster Recordings Ltd 1998 Jeepster Recordings Ltd

7
A Space Boy Dream
00:03:01

Belle and Sebastian, Performer - Stuart David, Composer, Writer

1998 Jeepster Recordings Ltd 1998 Jeepster Recordings Ltd

8
Dirty Dream Number Two
00:04:14

Belle and Sebastian, Performer - Stuart Murdoch, Composer, Writer

1998 Jeepster Recordings Ltd 1998 Jeepster Recordings Ltd

9
The Boy With the Arab Strap
00:05:14

Belle and Sebastian, Performer - Stuart Murdoch, Composer, Writer

1998 Jeepster Recordings Ltd 1998 Jeepster Recordings Ltd

10
Chickfactor
00:03:32

Belle and Sebastian, Performer - Stevie Jackson, Composer, Writer

1998 Jeepster Recordings Ltd 1998 Jeepster Recordings Ltd

11
Simple Things
00:01:46

Belle and Sebastian, Performer - Stuart Murdoch, Composer, Writer

1998 Jeepster Recordings Ltd 1998 Jeepster Recordings Ltd

12
The Rollercoaster Ride
00:06:36

Belle and Sebastian, Performer - Stuart Murdoch, Composer, Writer

1998 Jeepster Recordings Ltd 1998 Jeepster Recordings Ltd

Album Description

Belle & Sebastian quietly built a dedicated following after the release of their second album, If You're Feeling Sinister, as word of mouth spread from indie kids to record collectors to store clerks to critics. By the end of 1997, the Scottish septet had developed a following every bit as passionate as the Smiths did at their peak, which is only appropriate since leader Stuart Murdoch is as wittily literate as Morrissey. If You're Feeling Sinister proved this as did the three excellent EPs that followed, increasing expectations for The Boy With the Arab Strap. Even if the album doesn't match the peerless If You're Feeling Sinister or break new ground for Belle & Sebastian, it's not a sophomore slump. From the Motown stomp of "Dirty Dream Number Two" to the Paul Simon shuffle of the title track, there is more musical texture on Boy than Sinister, but much of this was already explored on the EPs, which means Arab Strap essentially consolidates the group's talents. Murdoch recedes from the spotlight on occasion, letting Steve Jackson deliver two music-biz spiels and giving Isobel Campbell space to shine with the lilting "Is It Wicked Not to Care?" All three songs are highlights, but Murdoch's songs still attract the most attention. His vicious wit, often overlooked in favor of his poetic narratives, surfaces on the title track, while "It Could Have Been a Brilliant Career" summarizes his effortless gift for elegant melancholia. Such small, precious gems are what Belle & Sebastian are all about, and The Boy With the Arab Strap offers another round of timeless, endlessly fascinating folk-pop treasures.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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