Belle And Sebastian
The Boy With The Arab Strap
Mediocrity is not a punishable crime, but if it was, Belle and Sebastian
would be enjoying their last meal right about now. This Scottish septet
who made a truly wonderful album last year called If You're Feeling
Sinister, has decided to parody themselves on their American debut,
The Boy With the Arab Strap. And a fine job they did, lads.
Whereas Sinister was filled with huge hooks, loungy chord change-ups,
and a fistful or two of bitingly catty lyrics, The Boy is seriously
lacking in all of that and more. Sinister was compared to Nick Drake
and Fairport Convention; The Boy will maybe remind you of the Starland
Vocal Band-- they of "Afternoon Delight" fame. These are songs so sticky they
should be hanging from Ben Stiller's ear, and I don't mean that in a good way.
In fact, I mean that in the worst possible way.
The band's spacey experiment in spoken word isn't a plus, and neither are the
wilted bouquets of bedroom poetry. Are we still learning from the Mel Bay book
of guitar? Where are the interesting chords? Only the title cut offers up
something fun, even if it does just sound like a glorified Hollies song.
Really, Sinister is well worth your time, but whatever an Arab Strap
is, it should be used to batten down the crap song hatch. Maybe next time
they'll get it back together. I hope so.