Belle and Sebastian – Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance

Album Review by Katie Hawthorne | 06 Jan 2015
Album title: Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance
Artist: Belle and Sebastian
Label: Matador
Release date: 19 Jan

Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance might come as a surprise for some. It’s tough and brave and witty and warm-hearted – perhaps inevitable characteristics for a Belles album. But this, their ninth studio record, is the work of a band challenging themselves – it’s just as ambitious as any fresh-faced debut.

Lead single The Party Line is a perfectly placed calling card. Combining classic Stuart Murdoch lyrics of hearsay and anticipation with what is, in essence, a dance track, it’s a perfect reintroduction to the band come 2015. There’s a touch of house mixed up in there somewhere, too; a line perhaps nobody ever expected in a Belle and Sebastian review, but it’s bloody wonderful.

Girls in Peacetime… is lovingly crafted, laced with embellishment and detail, and it’s full of unexpected twists: longer tracks like Enter Sylvia Plath and Play for Today are swelling and expansive, unfurling on to waxed, glitter-balled dance floors. The Everlasting Muse breaks into an rollicking big band march that comes to a halt as Murdoch challenges, “she says be popular, play pop.” By definition, it's no easy feat to write a disco track about Sylvia Plath, but Belle and Sebastian are more than equal to the task.

Playing Manchester Albert Hall on 14-15 May, Glasgow Hydro with the Scottish Festival Orchestra on 22 May and Liverpool Sound City on 24 May