Over the past few months, Glasgow’s Belle & Sebastian have tried something new with their EP release and though it’s been quite mixed as an experience, the music really shines. For their third and final release in their EP series, Part 3 finds the band at their most ecstatic, pop and dance-ready. While it’s certainly clear how the band found it easy to split their album up, listening to this final record, it doesn’t feel like it was overly necessary. All things considered, their final EP is a fun listen that’s only held back like the other releases by it’s minuscule length and how it occasionally compensates by stretching its songs out.
The band pull out their steadiest groove across their EPs on “Poor Boy” as they achieve a touch of disco and handfuls of harmonies for a track that really pops. Though the track really bounces on its dance beat, there’s a surprisingly raw emotional core that makes it feel worth listening to again and again. As the song goes on the band also introduces more into the percussion and melodic hooks to make the song more intoxicating the further you go, just like the love they’re singing about. Even between the trance-like switches in sound and parts where the full beat drops out, the bass runs the show here to make a steady drive of energy.
Stuart Murdoch’s more melancholy vocals give a real sense of weight to “Everything is Now (Part Two),” which really elevates its otherwise cheesy writing to something rather heavy. This said much of the song feels too overdone and stretched out to feel truly accessible. In all of this however, the band spins some wondrous pop out of their orchestral arrangements in a way that we just don’t get often enough in indie-rock anymore. Though the song could be tightened up, the more gospel ending to the song feels the most majestic out of anything in the track.
Belle & Sebastian take advantage of vintage pop more cleverly on “Too Many Tears” as their shimmering guitars and popping grooves make for ecstatic dance pop. Through all the string hooks, trumpets and triumphant Woo’s the track feels full of joy and the band don’t hide away from the more pained emotions that lie under their words. As the guitars slowly infect the song in other ways, the intense production brings them out in clever moments to make it all work as a mesh of rhythm.
“There Is An Everlasting Song” isn’t the band’s most original song by far, but it’s Murdoch’s seemingly evergreen lyricism that makes it stand tall. Through his visual narrative, the track blooms into its bouncy second half and goes from a sad drawl to something hopeful and inspiring. Though the track will definitely stand too bland for many, the utterly devastating truth within Murdoch’s emotional writing makes the song an honest and touching song to hear.
Through its booming doo wop writing under its Abba-like synths, “Best Friend” feels like a bizarre musical number from a Mamma Mia sequel we never got. Once you get over this unshakable feeling, the song’s myriad of hooks and dynamic moments makes it a lush and fun listen every time. Mixing elements of the most sugary pop with a really complex and fleshed out writing, the song balances the best of both worlds to make something deep and human that anyone can get into.
Words by Owen Maxwell