Like many people, Belle & Sebastian first crossed my radar in 1999 when they won the Brit Award for Best Newcomer. The same year, they had released their third album “The Boy With The Arab Strap”. Interesting definition of “Newcomer” you have there.
As I investigated and invested in their back catalogue, they seemed to me to be a band who consistently delivered a stream of quality albums and EPs. As a result, they became a band by whom I would buy their latest offering without actually having heard anything from it; there’s probably only ever been them, The Smiths, Morrissey, The Wedding Present and R.E.M. that have ever held that special place in my heart.
That said, I think the last album they released that I really liked was 2000’s “Fold Your Hand Child, You Walk Like a Peasant”; after that they seemed to become a little too polished (their next album proper was “Dear Catastrophe Waitress” which was produced by Trevor Horn, which probably explains that).
The reason for the drop off can probably be put down to Isobel Campbell leaving the band in 2002. She has gone on to release three wonderful albums with ex-Screaming Trees singer and gruff, grumpy, gravel-gargler Mark Lanegan, as well as some solo stuff too.
But it’s none of the above that tonight’s record comes from; Campbell’s first foray into solo recordings post Belle & Sebastian came under the moniker The Gentle Waves, and this track sounds like it’s lifted straight from a French art-house film-noir offering, but is in fact from their first album “Swansong for You”: