When you manage to pip the likes of 5ive and Steps to the much-coveted title of 'Best Newcomer' at the 1999 BRIT Awards you are pretty much set for a successful and lasting career. Now fifteen years old, Glaswegians Belle And Sebastian present the second volume of the Late Night Tales compilation series in which a particular artist picks their favourite tracks worth staying up for. Everyone from the Arctic Monkeys, Four Tet and the Flaming Lips has produced a compilation, an ordeal that evidently was so fun that Belle and Sebastian just had to make another.
For those familiar with the wistful pop of Belle and Sebastian then it probably come as like shock to find out that the group have a pretty impressive taste in music, with the compilation mixing songs old and new, English and foreign and even throwing in a cover of The Primitives' 'Crash' for good measure. The aforementioned cover sounds almost like a country version of the track, the 'la's' of the chorus however make it sound distinctly Belle and Sebastian. The pace of the original is slowed all the way down, the guitar riffs substituted for a gentle tickle of the ivories. Regardless of the initial pace of a song, if you take James Blake's version of 'Case Of You' by Joni Mitchell or even Jeff Buckley's take on Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' for example, when the cover version is played delicately and with a slowed down tempo it adds a sense of serenity to the song, they sound as original a recording as possible. Whilst this take on 'Crash' may not be as serene as 'Hallelujah' it is slowed down so much so that it develops its own freshness and originality like these other laudable cover versions do.
As for the rest of the album; the arrangement of the songs is pulled off very well, with each song flowing onto the next. The choices are all commendable, with Toro Y Moi's 'Still Sound' and 'Watch The Flowers Grow' by The Wonder Who? being the two tracks that particularly stand out. Chad Brunswick's Toro Y Moi project never fails to let down and the inclusion of 'Still Sound' may seem out of place when you first notice is on the playlist, that said it slips seamlessly into the grand scheme of things and couldn't sound more at home. After the hazy introduction of Broadcast's 'Ominous Cloud,' 'Watch The Flowers Grow' immediately picks you ears up, with Frankie Valli's falsetto lulling you into the ensuing songbook.
As far as compilation efforts go, the Late Night Tales series of releases are an accomplished look into the zeitgeist of current recording artists. Just reading the playlist conjures enough ums and ahs to substitute a full listening of the album. The album succeeds in not only welcoming you into the iPods of the Belle and Sebastian faithful, but also in introducing you a world of music that may otherwise go unnoticed and become lost in time.