Retrospective rarities collection from the indie legends
For some, Belle And Sebastian are twee, sickly sweet and lacking in substance. For others, the Glaswegian indie pop band are peerless storytellers, champions of life’s underdogs, outsiders and eccentrics. ‘The Third Eye Centre’ is a collection of rarities, collectibles and non-album tracks taken from the past 10 years of the band’s career, and won’t change anyone’s stance. Inside you’ll find very little deviation from the wistful, narrative-led pop they’ve made a career from.
The first triumph is ‘Suicide Girl’, a bonus track from 2010’s ‘…Write About Love’ album. It’s a gloriously twisted tale of unrequited love, in which the protagonist recounts fears about his partner getting naked on the internet instead of realising the love of her life is right in front of her, standing behind the camera. It’s a heartbreaker. ‘Blue Eyes Of A Millionaire’, all keyboard stabs and acoustic guitar, builds beautifully to a chorus of gorgeous strings and Sarah Martin’s unmistakable voice. And the mariachi freakbeat of ‘Mr Richard’, a CD-only B-side to 2006 single ‘The Blues Are Still Blue’, deserves to be heard by many more people.
But there are also missteps. The one unreleased track on here, ‘Your Cover’s Blown (Miaoux Miaoux Mix)’, is an annoying glam-dance version of a song that first appeared on 2004’s ‘Books’ EP. Richard X’s reworking of ‘I Didn’t See It Coming’ proves not everything sounds better with a donk on it, and the flutes and percussion on The Avalanches’ remix of ‘I’m A Cuckoo’ make it sound uncannily like the Sesame Street theme tune.
All three, like too many of the songs here, fail to display the band’s storytelling skill or way with a melody. But even when it’s watered down, more B&S in the world can only be a good thing.