Belle and Sebastian
Push Barman to Open Old Wounds
Beloved of sensitive indie boys and girls the world over, Belle and Sebastian have carved a niche for themselves over the last decade with their droll lyrics and immaculately crafted pop songs. Unashamedly sixties-obsessed, frontman Stuart Murdoch transplants the sunny Californian psychedelia of The Byrds and Love to a grimy Glaswegian bedsit, observing life with a novelist’s eye for detail. This two disk anthology collects material from EPs released on independent labels between 1997 and 2001. Far more than an outtakes and oddities collection, this is some of the band’s absolute best work. Essential listening for fans, and a great primer for uninitiated.
Sleeping in the Nothing
Celebrity daughter Kelly Osbourne has moved on from angsty pop punk posturing and jumped aboard the retro-eighties bandwagon with her second album. Production and songwriting are courtesy of producer-du-jour Linda Perry, who has worked with everyone from Christina Aguilera to Fischerspooner. Behind the glossy pop sheen, however, the material is banal and completely derivative. The best song, opening track and single ‘One Word’, has its verse lifted whole from Visage’s ‘Fade to Grey’. The analog synths, drum machines, and screaming eighties guitars are all here, but with none of the clunky charm of retro-futurist acts like Ladytron. Lightweight nobrainer MTV pop.
Face the Truth
Pavement may be dead and gone, but former frontman Steve Malkmus shows no sign of slowing down – ‘Face the Truth’ is his third and best solo album. While much of the truly chaotic energy of early Pavement recordings is gone, there remains a clear continuity between his recent solo work and the later output of his former band. Consequently, ‘Face the Truth’ comes across like a more mature, focused version of Pavement’s shambolic/laconic southern rock. And with Malkmus still capable of writing songs as beautiful and (relatively) direct as the lilting ‘Freeze the Saints’, that’s a fine thing. Genius at work.