Belle and Sebastian Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant

This fourth full-length recording by Glaswegian critics darlings Belle and Sebastian showcases all the earmarks of their earlier recordings: softly spoken/sung vocals, ambitious arrangements featuring stings and harpsichords, and plucky melodies that pierce the empty balloon of typical pop ditties. In fact, the grassy, rolling hills of the merrie English countryside seem to rise and fall with this record, so suffused is it with the olde thyme traditions of English folk. But like Nick Drake, these melodies bear a lots of personal messages, whispering their secrets to careful listeners. Unlike their acclaimed second record, If You're Feeling Sinister, this isn't a revelatory discovery, and there are a couple of dud moments that prevent it from masterpiece status, but its highs fly the friendly skies with the best pop music around. (Matador)