Social Dancing

From the looks of things, [B]B&S[/B]' recent [B]Brit Award[/B] hasn't exactly swollen [B]David[/B]'s ego noticeably.

Is a hothouse flower any less or more beautiful because it can’t survive outside its greenhouse?

[a]Looper[/a] are, of course, the cut’n’paste side project of [a]Belle & Sebastian[/a] bassist Stuart David. And from the looks of things, B&S‘ recent Brit Award hasn’t exactly swollen David‘s ego noticeably. Few words are spoken between songs, save for apologies for technical difficulties threaded through a computerised voice not dissimilar to Stephen Hawking‘s.

There’s something irksome about Looper’s diluted appropriation of dance culture, something incorrect about beats being bandied about by people who you couldn’t ever imagine cutting some rug. ‘Ballad Of Ray Suzuki’ is the apex of this irritation, almost Bis-like in its woeful lack of funk, an ignorant parody of techno.

It’s swallowed whole, however, by the stereotypical B&S acolytes swarming throughout the Rough Trade store, kids who usually would disdain electronic music in favour of cardigans and satchels. ‘Columbo’s Car’ is a little better, an amusing spoken-word passage illuminated by narrative-free groove samples; a pleasing enough vignette, but you can’t shake the desire for David to shut up and just let that gorgeous break stretch out to its full length.

When [a]Looper[/a] really work, on songs such as ‘Up A Tree Again’ or ‘Back To The Treehouse’, is when the drumloops and organs lend David‘s minimal, Velvets-esque ditties an urban freshness, a crisp focus in comparison to Belle & Sebastian‘s pastoral shimmer. This deftness is most keenly felt where the songs are as fragile and sublime as a snowflake, songs which seemingly dissolve as quickly as they appear.

And therein lies both [a]Looper[/a]’s appeal and their downfall. Too fragile to thrive in the outside world, they, like their fans, will remain safely ensconced in their protective bubbles. And while there is much that is charming and beguiling in their little corner of the world, there’s also something suffocatingly limiting about it too. As [a]Belle & Sebastian[/a] become property of a much wider potential fandom, you can’t help but wish [a]Looper[/a] would also embrace this opportunity and b