A Triumphant Return
Belle and Sebastian’s newest album A Bit of Previous which was released on May 6th, 2022 is an amalgamation of both upbeat and slower indie tunes that are overall pleasing to listen to. Although the group has been active in music-making for over two decades, Belle and Sebastian is still able to successfully evolve with new ideas; creating a skillful mix between acoustic and electronic. This can be seen in the variety of music they create, from stand-alone singles to soundtracks to films. Stepping away from the songs themselves, all of Belle and Sebastian’s main album releases consist of a monochrome color scheme. A Bit of Previous is no exception to this rule. Of the four pieces of art created for the album, all of them are a dark shade of brown. This creativity and the aesthetic cohesion even from just a visual perspective is applaudable.
Turning to the music itself, the tracks with the most impact so far since the full release have been “Unnecessary Drama” as well as “If They’re Shooting at You.” Both of these tracks lead the album on total streams, for great reasons. For “Unnecessary Drama,” the song features heavy use of electric guitar. This is an instrument that is not heavily utilized elsewhere on the album, and as a result, it helps this track stand out from the others in timbre. With very tight lyrical writing and a strong tempo being established by the percussion section, it is easy to see why this song was selected as a single to spur excitement for the band’s triumphant return.
“If They’re Shooting at You” contrasts the other singles’ faster tempo with a more lyrically focused tune. What makes this track stand out is its use of a background choir along with brass instruments being featured. This additive often helps create ambiance and helps with chordal buildup–showing the true versatility of what Belle and Sebastian is capable of.
This stark contrast is continued in the third track on the album, “Talk to Me, Talk to Me” which features a faster-paced synth and light percussion combination. It also revisits an electric guitar solo during the bridge of the song, similar to “Unnecessary Drama.” This song, and a few others like it on the album, feel like a blast from the musical past. Specifically, it has lyrics that contrast with the song’s more upbeat tune, with the chorus echoing “Confusion is trying to take a hold of me, all I wanted was peace inside a sanctuary, I lived my life so desperate to be in control.” These types of heavier lyrics appear in many of this album’s discography and are often paralleled with a more upbeat tune. This contrast in darker lyricism and quicker tempos of the music itself is something that is one of the album’s strong suit, and is a tactic that the group has been no stranger to on their past releases.
With lots of ’70s groove and ’80s funk inspirations in this album along with darker tones to lyricism in many of their tracks, it is clear that Belle and Sebastian’s A Bit of Previous was worth the wait. By having contrasting tracks with a variety of different moods, the album is set up to age well with timeless techniques. With almost thirty years of creating music, it is clear that Belle and Sebastian have mastered the craft of creating music that is truly timeless.