Belle & Sebastian’s seventh album is an unexpected dose of giddy sing-along pop. With Dear Catastrophe Waitress, Scottish indie pop legends Belle & Sebastian add whimsical ’60s sunshine pop to the contemplative and melancholy songwriting that made their 1995 debut Tigermilk an indie rock essential.
Produced by commercial pop maverick Trevor Horn (worked with Paul McCartney, Grace Jones, Pet Shop Boys; former member of the Buggles), Belle & Sebastian’s newest installment combines catchy hooks, saccharine-sweet vocal harmonies and orchestral arrangements that draw on influences ranging from the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds to the AM pop of the Carpenters.
While fans of Belle & Sebastian’s earlier work may find the relentlessly poppy, cheerful tone of songs like “Step Into My Office, Baby” unbearable, the stripped down sincerity of “Piazza, New York Catcher” will satisfy a longing for quintessential Belle & Sebastian twee of yore.
If your indie CD collection could use a prescription of Prozac, you’ll love this album. However, if the phrase “soft rock” makes you wanna vomit, skip this one and go buy their earlier release, The Boy With The Arab Strap instead.
[Zoe Bower deserves a mint green Vespa, complete with snappy mod boy, more than you do.]