Belle & Sebastian Write About Love (Merge Records) British twee no more, stateside and seventies like; I Want the World to Stop with the fanciest James Bond-like theme song, bass line you’ll here all year. Softer songs don’t shine as much as they used to & Norah Jones duets with Stuart Murdoch- not memorable but still sweet, like most of ‘Write.’ B&S aren’t as witty as they used to be (and that’s ok; the central theme, ‘love,’ tends to break & re-build, grow; they’re not the kids we fell in love with anymore; we’re not either); but the songs are still honest, well-crafted ruminations on the ups and downs of love.
The 1900s Return of The Century(Parasol Records) Fans of Ray Davies’ character songs channeled through Chicago’s underground pop scene will find much to love here. Classically produced songs, strung out on character narratives and arrangement twists delivered with subtle nods to rock & pop’s yesteryear. Midwestern twee, imagine Belle & Sebastian settling in Chicago and that’s the direction The 1900s have taken with their latest album.
Versus On the Ones & Threes (Merge Records) Like label mates, Superchunk, Versus returns with a careful, calculated return, their first release in 10 years. On the Ones & Threes rewards return listens with gritty, tight guitars & gendered vocals trading leads, often merging perfectly under bridges and choruses. The songs are the stars here; Versus newbies should taste-test the opening trio, Invincible Hero, ‘Nu Skin’s’ epic guitar rock build into, well-perfectly, Into Blue. Nothing original, just 10 strong, smart and tasteful guitar rock songs with clever pop sensibilities.