NME – Charing Cross Borderline, London, 11th November 1996
30th November 1996
Live Review

By rights, a band called Belle And Sebastian should be impossibly twee. There should be two of them, and they should coo sweetly as they marry pretty ’60s folk-pop to sentiments of inadequacy. This is what is expected.
What they should not be is a six-strong posse of happy-go-lucky Glaswegians crammed into a tiny stage on a Monday night, charming the pants off a couple of hundred people who really shouldn’t have heard of them yet. And what they really, really shouldn’t do is rock out.

Time then, to chuck out the rule book and simply revel in the happy accident that is B&S. Cobbled together nine months ago by singer, guitarist and songwriter-in-chief Stuart Murdoch, they’ve released one very limited-edition LP called “Tigermilk”, followed this week by “If You’re Feeling Sinister”. And – in that they do actually play unfeasibly pretty ’60s folk-pop tunes – they are the triumphant conclusion of long and concerted Hibernian efforts to suduce us with simple melody.

They sound like Nick Drake fronting the BMX Bandits. They feel as precious as the Pastels. But – crucially – they play like Tindersticks. And for this they should be worshipped.

So clever, literate songs like “Stars Of Track And Field” and “Seeing Other People” start out unassumingly, with Stuart strumming a quiet acoustic or piano introduction. But gradually each tune builds up into a rich, gooey confection of sound – and all cutie timorousness goes the way of the rule book. Keyboards and drums and bass and cello and concertina and tambourine and toy piano join guitars in a rollicking crescendo worthy of the most drunken and dissolute of rock’n’rollers. By the end, Stuart is jigging around and stamping on the keyboards with his feet, narrowly missing bandmate Chris’ fingers. He’s clearly transported – and, judging by the crowd’s expressions – he’s not the only one.

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