Belle & Sebastian – How to Solve Our Human Problems (Part 3)
How to Solve Our Human Problems (Part 3) goes some way to encapsulating the ethos of the project and is in turn the most assured and enjoyable of its three EPs
Part three of Belle & Sebastian's How to Solve Our Human Problems series is the most assured and enjoyable of the bunch. It may not contain the best songs they've ever produced, but it does provide an insight into the current state of the band, one that's still brimming with creativity and willing to experiment outside of their regular comfort zone. It goes some way to encapsulating the ethos of the project by giving us a snapshot of a group in transit, comfortable in their groove, but willing to explore and adapt to the changing musical landscape.
Poor Boy, the third lead single is a pseudo-R'n'B jam, produced by Inflo (responsible for Michael Kiwanuka’s Love & Hate), that works well because it doesn't lean too heavily into the experiment. Instead, the different styles mould around the usual framework, while keeping the best aspects of the band intact.
The second part of Everything is Now is an improvement on the first, adding a solid set of verses to what was previously mostly instrumental and meandering. There is an Everlasting Song is the best song of the EP and possibly the best of the whole project. It's shorter and more direct, paring back any instrumental flourishes to mostly acoustic guitar and Stuart Murdoch's laconic and desparing voice; 'There is an everlasting sadness all around now / It's all around...' It has a sense of subtlety and nuance that's been largely absent from recent B&S material and it gives a reminder of how this band can make you feel when they're on top form.
They don't close at their peak, choosing instead the much cheerier Best Friend, a song that is more “new” B&S, all beats and keys without a trace of cynicism; 'What I lack in speed, I make up for in the way I move my hips'. It treads the now rote B&S line between sickly and sweet, but its bouncy energy ends the EP, and the project, on a note of overwhelming positivity, something all too rare in the media we consume these days.
Listen to: There is an Everlasting Song, Poor Boy