February 1999
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This Is Just A Modern Rock Song- Belle & Sebastian (Jeepster Records)

A review by Courtney Knopf

Fresh off the September release of their much acclaimed album The Boy With The Arab Strap, Scottish octet Belle & Sebastian are back with a lovely new EP called This Is Just A Modern Rock Song. The title track is a lilting pop tune with vocalist Stuart Murdoch lamenting about not being as sad as Doestoevsky or as clever as Mark Twain as he writes a song.

Laced with cheeky irony about the trappings of writing a pop song, "We're four boys in our corduroys/ We're not terrific but we're competent," Murdoch's lyrics are a canny reflection of the spoils of indie stardom.

This Is Just A Modern Rock Song "I Know Where the Summer Goes" sounds like a leftover from the If You're Feeling Sinister session, and has an achingly beautiful string arrangement that swells in all the right places. "The Gate" is another Isobel Campbell song, and is perhaps the weakest track on the EP. While her voice is strong and the melody infectious, it hardly lives up to the promise of her "Is It Wicked Not To Care" on TBWTAS. Still, a jaunty and slightly out of tune piano, make it what it is.

"Slow Graffitti" is the stand-out track on the EP. Originally released on the soundtrack to the film The Acid House, "Slow Graffitti" is a pulsating piece of pop perfection that builds from a spare a capella vocal into a wall of sound that would have made Phil Spector proud.

While this EP is only technically available in the UK, it can be found in the Import bins of any music stores worth their salt. Matador, which is Belle & Sebastian's U.S. label, also has plans to release a compilation CD of the import EPs, as well as a slated spring release date for the reissue of Tigermilk, the first and now notoriously out of print album that was recorded while the band members were still in music school.

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