After an excursion into glam with 2006’s splendid ‘The Life Pursuit’, followed by a considerable period of time during which things went rather quiet on the Belle and Sebastian front, ‘Write About Love’ marks something of a retreat towards their ‘home’ sound. Few and far between are the joyless ear-haters for whom the Trevor Horn produced ‘Dear Catastrophe Waitress’ and some aspects of that polished swing-pop are in evidence here, particularly on relentlessly cheery opening track ‘I Didn’t See It Coming’.
The old lumbering jangle which made them so adorable in the Jeepster days makes a welcome appearance on the enjoyably titled ‘Calculating Bimbo’, which never rises above a saunter, while some vintage forlorn trumpet sits neatly on ‘The Ghost Of Rockschool’.
‘I Want The World To Stop’ is the real tour de force on this record and one of my songs of 2010, with its buoyantly taught bass line, swirling strings and epic finale. What’s not to like? And yet, as with Massive Attack, there seems to a group of people who begrudge the band for not still sounding exactly like they did prior to signing to Rough Trade, an era which, we should remember, ended with a whimper not a bang. Yes, this album has Norah Jones on it, but she has a delightful voice which works far better with Stuart Murdoch‘s than I would have expected, especially when put across an organ heavy ballroom number such as ‘Little Lou, Ugly Jack, Prophet John’.
‘I’m Not Living In The Real World‘, built around a delicious ‘ooooh’ backing vocal line, is one of guitarist Stevie’s Jackson‘s occasional outings and an absolute pop monster, secreted early in the second half of the album. Murdoch also takes a backseat for ‘I Can See Your Future’, which is sung and arranged by Sarah Martin, both roles, but for a slightly clunky breakdown, she handles with aplomb. Things are rounded out with the glazed guitar sound of ‘Sunday’s Pretty Icons’, a slightly muted conclusion which is a nevertheless wistfully pleasant way to leave things. ‘Write About Love’ is not perfect, but it’s a great album which works best when digested in one sitting. Yes, you can extract a couple of tracks to terrific effect for compilation purposes, but I can see how otherwise cursory listens will leave people a little cold. For me, it’s a cracking vinyl record – warm, wilfully vintage and neatly split into two halves. It works for me.