Belle & Sebastian - Dear Catastrophe Waitress - Album Review

Belle & Sebastian - Dear Catastrophe Waitress
Belle & Sebastian - Dear Catastrophe Waitress - Album Review

Belle & Sebastian
Dear Catastrophe Waitress
Album Review

Dear Catastrophe Waitress in a nutshell: Its good, folksy pop; the band have become a little more daring in their choice of producers; the songs are varied enough to keep new fans interested. ‘Step into my office baby’ is as good as anything they’ve done, and the rest of the album is full of the same witty writing from the higher end of their range. “I’m sorry if he hit you with a full can of coke – its no joke. Your face is bleeding…” these strange depressing lyrics, that are almost as

Music - Belle & Sebastian - Dear Catastrophe Waitress – Album Review

amusing as Morrissey’s, and considering they’re set to a terrifyingly chirpy backdrop, the smiths-esque comparisons are almost justified. But this sounds more like an early-nineties summer-pop record than anything out of the eighties. The Sundays, or early Cardigans, are the focus of the first chunk of the album. Of course, ‘I’m a Cuckoo’ is Steely Dan & Thin Lizzy through and through, but we can obviously allow them a bit of variation. Gentle, straight folk songs like ‘Piazza, New York Catcher’ give away their happy-clappy background, but otherwise it looks promisingly like they’ve ditched the Christian rock act. Which can only be a good thing, right? Also, the production seems perfectly suited to the songs on this album, which is an extremely bizarre thing considering the producer next to the band: Trevor Horn, of TATU/Frankie goes to Hollywood fame, who appears to have belied his background and brought a dash of something that DCW would seem so lacking without. So while it might be all shimmering horns and jumpy harmonies, you still couldn’t imagine the music department of the Church of England letting anyone who had anything to do with Frankie near their number 1 artistes.

‘Stay Loose’, however, might be a look forward to a futuristic B&S of the future, and it sounds a bit like a kind of messed up Dexy’s / Madness. Sounds bizarre, yes, but this is probably just the band letting Horn’s influence run riot rather than anything else, so I wouldn’t worry too much (although, it might be nice to see them try this sort of thing out next).

Despite placing the leading single at the very start of the album (often a sure-fire signpost to an album full of filler), Dear Catastrophe Waitress contains enough hooks for an entire weekend’s trout fishing (forgive me). It almost even gets a little gritty towards the end, but still continues to deal out the head-bobbing catchiness that will somehow have to be engraved into the B&S tombstone. E.g. ‘If You Ever Find Yourself Caught in Love’, which starts with a collection of slow minor piano chords, followed by a brief pause as if to say ‘fuck it’ – then bursts into a lovely little showtune. In an album full of a surprisingly varied number of styles, the description of ‘showtune’ probably sums the whole album up best. Imagine a west end show based on a story about some sort of English bard, and this wouldn’t seem astray as the soundtrack. Its quirky, its one of their best albums to date, and whilst it probably won’t match up to Tigermilk in the die-hards’ eyes, it will probably win them a few more well-deserved fans.

3.5/5

Mark Danson