Belle and Sebastian Dear Catastrophe Waitress

Belle and Sebastian got new drugs. Having milked their somnambulant chamber pop sound since their sophomore album, If You’re Feeling Sinister, was declared the greatest thing since hyperbole, it’s about time too. The newly upbeat — or is that Mersey beat? — Scottish combo is practically sprightly throughout Dear Catastrophe Waitress, skipping, hopping and bouncing through a series of tunes that actually validate all the music geeks who tried to connect their dots back to Brian Wilson. (The Kevin Bacon of pop music referencing.) Singer Stuart Murdoch has finally tired of his Nick Drake records, and goes full throatal, even on the quieter numbers like the acoustically strummed "Roy Walker.” Even the early ‘60s Four Tops sing-along sound of "You Don’t Send Me,” which doesn’t quite work, is welcome for its attempts to evolve a sound that has become frankly dull. Paxil, Prozac, or just getting out in the sun — whatever it is, Belle and Sebastian should acquire more of it. (Sanctuary)