EPs tend to be regarding as low-stakes affairs where experimentation is encouraged and throwaway tracks are condoned. How to Solve Our Human Problems isn't your average EP, however, since it's essentially a full-length album that Belle and Sebastian have divided into three serialized instalments. This EP isn't simply a stopgap between LPs, so the expectations are inevitably higher.
The good news is that Part 2 is significantly more consistent that the scattershot Part 1. Opener "Show Me the Sun" is a psych-soul rave-up that sounds like a spiritual successor to the 2000 single "Legal Man" (minus the spy-themed humour), while "The Same Star" evokes the lavish AM leanings of 2003's Dear Catastrophe Waitress. The easygoing acoustic numbers "I'll Be Your Pilot" and "A Plague on All Other Boys" are a return to classic-sounding B&S after the electronic inclinations of Part 1.
The outlier this time around is the Stevie Jackson-sung "Cornflakes," which has unusual chord changes and queasy synth bends that are too ugly to fit in Belle and Sebastian's wheelhouse. When it eventually blossoms into a giddy bridge, it's too little, too late.
Ignore that tune, however, and Part 2 is a solid example of Belle and Sebastian sticking to what they do best. It's more than enough to have fans on the edge of their seat, eagerly awaiting Part 3. (Matador)