“ Artist: Belle & Sebastian / Release Date: 1996 / Genre: Indie Rock & Punk „
It was never going to be an easy task, following up 'Tigermilk', especially so soon after it's release. But Belle And Sebastian have never been the kind of band to rest on their laurels, and this second effort proves that in the most emphatic way possible.
The lyrics are once again quirky, clever and well constructed. The melodies are yet again infectious and memorable. All the ingredients are once more in place for another classic Belle and Sebastian album.
Is it better than Tigermilk? Well it's hard to say, but if there is a difference in quality, the amount is miniscule.
Stars of Track and Field is the first track on the album, and a very suitable choice. While it may not be a spectacular song, it is very intelligently written and rather funny in parts. It's also in the same recognizable Belle and Sebastian style.
Seeing Other People again displays the offbeat humour and use of situational story telling that Belle and Sebastian employ across many of their works.
Much of the irony and silliness continues into 'Me and the Major', which is just a further example of the lighthearted approach that Belle and Sebastian translate so well into thoroughly listenable songs.
The next three tracks, 'Like Dylan in the Movies', 'Fox in the Snow', 'Get Me Away From Here I'm Dying', bring the emphasis back to what Belle and Sebastian do best - sensitive, contemplative, yet unbearably catchy.
Then there's the title track of the album, 'If You're Feeling Sinister', which starts with background noise of a school playground and slowly transitions a melancholy piano, before starting with the song proper. It's a beautifully nostalgic piece, and one of the best in Belle and Sebastian's entire catalogue.
Mayfly is the quiet kid of the bunch. It hangs around in an unassuming matter. Even so, it's pleasant and worth getting to know.
The Boy Done Wrong Again and Judy and The Dream of Horses are the two final songs on the album, and the two i've listened to the least. Each are nice, if a bit different from that proceeding it.
Overall 'If You're Feeling Sinister' captures a brilliant balance between the subtle quietude we've come to expect from Belle and Sebastian and the hint of humour and good feeling that is just waiting to burst out. It's a joy to listen to, and a must buy for any fans, and... well, anyone!
If You're Feeling Sinister is Belle and Sebastian's second album, although the first to become publicly known. It wasn't so much released into the world as much as it just appeared, one day. If You're Feeling Sinister is one of the best albums I've heard. It's witty, pleasurable, thought-provoking and generally really well written in terms of both the music and the lyrics.
Stuart Murdoch here is to blame, the head of the band and although unlike later albums, this one is really just a centre for his singer-songwriter career but he does it well, and each song has its own bit of wickedness attached to it. The characters and the stories for these songs are great. The lyrics of these mild songs are loaded with romanticism, sexual libertarianism, and the sort of bohemian lifestyle you look out of your apartment window at the rainsplattered streets and just dream about. The twee sounds of the album bring out these inner lives you've never seen.
In my opnion, the highlight of the album is the song Get Me Away From Here I'm Dying, about finding inspiration through books, identifying yourself with the hero is great to listen to on a lazy day, lying on your bed reading whatever to get you away from the real world. The cheerful Mayfly adds a great sense of light-heartended and whimsy by singing about the fly with the one day to live.
In its entirety, If You're Feeling Sinister is a great album, and one of the more perfect albums I've heard, with great lyrics and music. One of the definitve indie/twee albums.
a poll that i viewed on the official fansite indicated that this album tends to be the favourite of most belle and sebastian fans. and it could well be argued that this is their most typical album yet. I think it was the 2nd, but at the time, few people would have heard Tigermilk due to it having been released in very small numbers. There is great beauty in this album, musically and lyrically but it is by no means consistent and at times, stuart's technically poor but pleasantly unique voice can go off on one a bit. 1. Stars of Track and Field a nice opener with a good steady build to a dramatic change of pace halfway through and some very twee i'm-an-outcast style lyrics. 2. Seeing Other People one of their best tracks and, for me, the highlight of this album. lovely jaunty piano and fantastic lyrics and melody. i'm sure their lyrical style is at times, like their cover artwork, reminiscent of the smiths. 3. Me and the Major a sad but true account of the infernal age gap that separates old and young (As age gaps tend to do). similar style to the 2nd track and lovely to dance about your room badly to. 4. Like Dylan in the Movies i don't know why but i always imagine al stewart singing this one. this is another strong tune and could have been a single but i dont think they do singles off albums. 5. Fox in the Snow ah, a tender song about a fox in some snow. or is it? either way this IS belle and sebastian love me or hate em. it's very nice but i'm not sure about the backing vocals on this one. 6. Get Me Away from Here, I'm Dying continuing on the same theme 7. If You're Feeling Sinister the title track. lyrically suspect at times i think, going too far into twee and out the other side into crap, but it's musically very nice and you can sing along without being embarassed. 8. Mayfly
i don't remember this track at all. i always think its a nick drake track. :S 9. Boy Done Wrong Again a nice, sad one but stuart goes a bit too high here and his voice doesnt like him for it. 10. Judy and the Dream of Horses again, too twee and too high but it's still a good old song so who cares?
Released in 1996 I only just got around to buying it in a sale at Virgin. A bargain at a tenner, and well worth the money spent. I remember when Belle and Sebastian was being played on the radio loads and I thought "Hmm I should buy their album" but I never do get around to doing that most of the time. As you can see it's taken me ages to buy my first Belle and Sebastian album. Anyway - on to the description. Belle and Sebastian are a scottish 7-piece whose style is mellow acoustic/light electric rock. The lead singer has a slight lisp and far from detracting from the music it makes it all the much better. Track listing: The Stars of Track and Field Seeing Other People Me and The Major Like Dylan in the Movies The Fox in the Snow Get me away from here, I'm dying If you're feeling sinister Mayfly The Boy done wrong again Judy and the dream of horses The lyrics don't have much in the way of deep meaning or heart-rending emotion, but are on the other hand beautifully mundane - "We lay on the bed there Kissing just for practice Could we please be objective? Cause the other boys are queuing up behind us A hand over my mouth A hand over the window Well, if I remain passive and you just want to cuddle Then we should be ok, and we won't get into trouble Cause we're seeing other people At least that's what we say we are doing" It's great to have a "light" album that isn't just pop tunes that are superficial in the extreme. The Belle and Sebastian album contains songs that are wonderful in their everyday simplicity. It's a light-hearted alternative pop album that isn't punctuated by coreographed dance moves and plastic faces. If you're wanting a cheery album and have taste in music such that the fake veneer of steps pisses you off, then this is a great feelgood
one. Shove it in your cd player and hum all your troubles away... You can take delight in the sheer simplicity of the songs and the child-like (in a good way) lyrics... It's a hark back to innocence lost when the troubles of the world seemed so far away: Fox in the snow "Fox in the snow, where do you go To find something you can eat? Cause the word out on the street is you are starving Don't let yourself grow hungry now Don't let yourself grow cold Fox in the snow Girl in the snow, where will you go To find someone that will do? To tell someone all the truth before it kills you They listen to your crazy laugh Before you hang a right And disappear from sight What do they know anyway? You'll read it in a book What do they know anyway? You'll read it in a book tonight Boy on the bike, what are you like As you cycle round the town? You're going up, you're going down You're going nowhere It's not as if they're paying you It's not as if it's fun At least not anymore When your legs are black and blue It's time to take a break When your legs are black and blue It's time to take a holiday Kid in the snow, way to go It only happens once a year It only happens once a lifetime Make the most of it Second just to being born Second to dying to What else could you do?" Rediscover your innocence and get this album... I'm sure you'll love it Ken
Belle-amissimo The second album from Belle and Sebastian, and I think their best and most accessible - you're more likely to end up singing along to this one than to their other albums. Much as I like their others, especially "The Boy with the Arab strap", this one is more immediately likeable. And yes, there is something sinister about it all, somehow - I don't know whether it's the odd mix of instruments, and the undeniably strange lyrics? but if it wasn't for this 'sinister' (call it what you will) element, the music of Belle and Sebastian would actually sound very close to easy listening, in a way. Because many of the songs sound 'quiet', and the tunes and production even remind me of Burt Bacharach at times (I'm thinking of Dionne's Warwick "I say a little prayer", for some reason, don't ask me why!). But in the end it misses the dubious 'easy listening' label by a mile - if you have to categorise it, it's indie, and something you wouldn't be ashamed to have playing when your mates come round. "Boys of Track and Field" starts off very delicately, and quietly, but the choruses get louder, building joyously. "Seeing other people" has an instantly memorable tune, which reminds me of the Magnetic Fields. There's lovely rolling piano, and, at the end, harmonica - played in a kind of Stevie Wonder style. Bob Dylan features in the song "Dylan in the movies" (love the lyric "Don't look back, like Dylan in the movies" - obviously a reference to his 60s tour documentary. I like the echo-ey pinao on here, too. Stuart Murdoch's vocals remind me quite a bit of Donovan (who actually appears in "Don't look back" too, but that's another story...). "Get me away from here, I'm dying" is great another good tune, and my highlight of the entire album, if not all of Belle and Sebastia
n's songs. The title track is a cynical, and ultimately serious look at religion and sexuality. It's full of contradictions - the upbeat la la las at the end belie the subject matter, and any song that can rhyme 'confusion' with 'Rediffusion' has to be wierd. "Mayfly" has what sounds very like a stylophone on it, and although the song sounds far from amateur, it makes you think you could record an album like this yourself. It's all a bit like a lo-fi Supertramp, or a guitar-free Smiths, with Burt Bacharach producing, and believe it or not, that means I love it.
Belle and Sebastian's startling second album arrived at the perfect time. Britpop had taken the charts by storm and indie music was beginning to infiltrate the mainstream. IYFS sounded so completely different, full of folk fuelled moments, insightful lyrics and sleevenotes that tickle the funny bone. Quite simply IYFS dwarfed most albums released in 1996 and offered a delightful alternative to the Oasis rock and roll beast. Add to this, an aura not too dissimilar to the one held by The Stone Roses a few years earlier and cult type things start happening. Scant interviews, dodgy half-lit photographs (it was next to impossible to find out what they looked like), ultra loyal fans and a v-sign cast in the general direction of the music industry. A band forging ahead by doing it their way, with the obvious result that sales were hit (in the interim at least). So what does the music sound like. Well it’s low key a lot of the time and at first you might wonder what all the fuss is about. After a time though the quality shines through. 'Stars of Track and Field' is an ambitious opener/slow burner that reveals its beauty at about the third listen. Find yourself humming it incessantly until your concerned folks call medical assistance. 'Seeing Other People' is the star of the IYFS show, a skidding piano riff, a xylophone plinking join the racing vocal that knows exactly where its heading. 'Me and the Major' and 'Like Dylan in the Movies' continue in the same vein and you wonder whether they can maintain this pace and quality for the whole album. The answer is most definitely yes, because although Fox in the Snow brings the gallop to a canter it's a stallion of a tune. There's a lovely swing that runs right through the album that gives you the confidence to play it to your friends and feel proud that you discovered them first. Watch you're status in your circle of friends elevate as a
result. Crack open the fake champagne to the celebratatory strains of 'Mayfly' and get drunk on the closing track 'Judy and the Dream of Horses'. While a lot of albums store the weaker tracks near the end, don't be fooled here. It's a romper stomper effort that develops out of humble beginnings. It's impossible to fault this album. It is up there with the unrivalled 'The Stone Roses', 'Screamadelica' and 'Giant Steps' and should be an essential part of your record collection.
It's time to take a break so listen to this. B & S's second and probably best album is generally a mellow affair which will not shock those of you who have heard their later stuff. The opener 'the stars of track and field' is about as upbeat as it gets and it is a wonderful track full of ideas and witty lyrics. From then on its gentle folksy ride of poinient lyrics and subtlety. You wont hear it at the disco, but its just the thing for the night after the night before (as long as the night wasn't too bad as you may top yourself listening to 'fox in the snow'). You get the idea that B&S have put all their energies into writng the album rather than playing it as there seem to be the odd note and beat out of place but thats probably intentional to create the overall 'rambling' effect of this piece. However its imperfections somehow make it perfect in a way, there's not a bad track on it. Get drunk , feel melancholy, listen to 'fox in the snow' and cry. It doesnt get better than this.
Then perhaps you could play this album....(;-) On the whole the album is filled with uplifting tunes and beats and a wide variety of musical instruments are used throughout, ranging from piano, harmonica and xylophone through to the more typical guitar and drum thing. For me, the real outstanding points of this album, are the lyrics and the easy listening style in which it is presented. It is not an album that I would play when getting ready for a night out but more one that you would play whilst washing the dishes as it does lift your spirits and put a spring in your step. The opening track 'Stars of Track and Field' starts off slowly and builds into a real toe-tapper that is easy to listen to with vocals that complement rather than drowning out the light guitars and drums. It is also fairly funny to my mind anyway! 'Seeing Other People' has a catchy tune and exposes the irony of having attached people who are having a fling. 'Fox in the Snow' is a slower more contemplative tune that made me think a little about where my personal aims and objectives are taking me. There are seven other tracks on this album, that are all different yet strangely alike. If you are after something that is easy to listen to perhaps as background music that is playing whilst you are doing something else, then this album is a good bet.