The soundtrack to a musical film which isn’t even due to be shot until next year, ‘God Help The Girl’ is a collection of new songs (and, in the form of opener ‘Act Of The Apostle’ and ‘Funny Little Frog’, two old ones) penned by Belle & Sebastian man Stuart Murdoch.
As well as guests Neil Hannon (from The Divine Comedy) and Asya (from teen rockers Smoosh), in a twee-pop spin on The X-Factor format, Murdoch actually held open auditions in which members of the public could send in recordings of themselves singing for a chance to feature on the project. The key find is Limerick-born Catherine Ireton, who sings the lion’s share of the record, graces the cover art and might just be the female foil Murdoch has been looking for since Isobel Campbell left his side in 2002. Ireton’s voice has an unschooled grace which elevates ‘Hiding Neath My Umbrella’ to the status of an interesting, if flimsy, curio in Murdoch’s canon. It’s just a shame the rest of the record, and the new recruits, are so fucking woeful.
Where Hannon’s voice perfectly suits his own comically wry compositions, his arch drawl on ‘Perfection As A Hipster’ is a mere pastiche of the man’s own work on his brilliant 1996 album ‘Casanova’. Then there’s tepid closer ‘A Down And Dusky Blonde’, which is well beneath the quality of composition Murdoch used to toss away as the last track on old B&S EPs. Yet it’s Seattle resident Brittany Stallings’ run-through of the band’s ‘The Life Pursuit’ single ‘Funny Little Frog’ which marks the nadir of such a charmless record – somehow, this once jaunty, clever little pop song now sounds like – shudder – Morcheeba. God help the girl? God help the fallen indie-pop Godhead…
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