Published Jan 16, 2015In their two decades as a band, Belle and Sebastian have reinvented themselves a few times already, and on Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance, their follow-up to the pleasant but uninspired Write About Love in 2010, they've done it yet again.
The track times, which frequently stretch past the five-minute mark and max out at seven-and-a-half, mark an effort on the band's part to stick with songs long enough to let a groove or a feeling fully sink in. The approach works especially well on "Play For Today," whose subtle, African-inspired rhythms and optimistic lyrics juxtapose with the morose, minor key melody to evoke a feeling of hope amidst despair, and on "The Cat With the Cream," where the runtime allows the weight to the song's solemnity to slowly build.
There's an increased sense of rhythm here, too: the bounce of "Allie," the French house-inspired "The Party Line" and disco epic "Enter Sylvia Plath" are album highlights all, plumbing the depths of dance music the band previously skimmed on 2004 non-album cut "Your Cover's Blown."
Though it's far from perfect — the Balkan folk-inspired "The Everlasting Muse" and lounge-y "Perfect Couples" weigh the back half down just a little — Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance is a statement record that Belle and Sebastian are still expert songwriters, with more than a few musical cards left to play. (Matador)