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Belle & Sebastian - Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant

Review by Jessica Brandt

I'm so glad I've never really heard Nick Drake or the Smiths or any of the other bands Belle & Sebastian is likened to in each and every review I've ever read. In my mind, they're the only mellow "Brit-pop" band that are like this. What is "this?" Most notably, for me, it's their use of words and knack for simple storytelling set over beautiful musical backgrounds that sneak up on you from behind the words and kiss you on the cheek at the end of the song. Is that colorful enough?

Time magazine recently had a review of Fold your hands child, you walk like a peasant in which they spend most of the article commenting on how much adults simply LOVE this band and how Stuart Murdoch makes them giddy. I must admit, I am entranced by them, and my B&S CD collection takes up 99% of my CD player's time, but I don't think they really make me swoon. They do make my life less stressful and possibly lower my heart rate. They do paint beautiful pictures in my mind and say very naughty things with a very sweet tongue. They do, in fact, make me sing along with every word.

Lots of people are complaining about the musicality on this particular album. "It's no Arab Strap!" they say. Hmmm...of all the albums and EPs, Arab Strap is my least favorite. True, it does contain my favorite and the band's most "musical" song, "Dirty Dream #2," but to me, unless a song can tell amazing tales like "Judy and the Dream of Horses," "The State That I am In" or "Beautiful," then I don't consider it up to par with previous work.

Fold your Hands... starts off with Stuart Murdoch singing solo about how he "Fought in a War" and the album escalates from there. "Don't Leave the Light On" is a masterful song about breaking up (nearly to par with "You Made me Forget my Dreams") written by Chris Geddes in collaboration with Murdoch. The song of the grandest scale on this album, with the most instrumentation, is also the song with the least lyrics ("The Wrong Girl"). Hopefully, the members of Belle and Sebastian realize how important their lyrics are and see that they dasn't let the fact that they're a wide-ranging septet cover up their poetry.

The most beautiful and intense song on this album (in my opinion, but not according to my friend Emily, who doesn't like the song at all) is "The Chalet Lines." Once I heard it, I had to listen over and over again. Stuart Murdoch sings from the perspective of a young girl who was recently raped. He uses the timing in his vocals to capture the frazzled mind of a girl so understandably upset by what had happened. I've never been raped, and I can't say that I can identify with this song, but something in its beauty makes me keep coming back to it.

The one klunker on this disc, I'd have to say, is "Beyond the Sunrise." The lyrics sound very forced, and the jarring sound of a lower male voice ruins the mood that is so incredible when listening to any Belle & Sebastian album.

This album definitely was a group effort, however. Geddes, Isobel Campbell and Sarah Martin all had a hand in writing the songs, and they have been together long enough now where it just flows. This is an album I'm excited to listen to every day on the way to and from work. Eventually the excitement will wear off, but you know I will just go back to the beginning of the B&S catalog and find it anew!

I can't say it's as good as If You're Feeling Sinister or Tigermilk, because the interesting stories about boring people just aren't there. however, this album gives us the right amount of melodies and lyrics to fall into place above Arab Strap on my list.

A- [92%]

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