You could say there’s a good reason why Jack Black’s character in High Fidelity called Belle and Sebastian “sad bastard music.” After all, the Scottish group originally rose to prominence with the melancholic chamber pop of their first few albums. Those who know them only for that, then, may get a bit of a surprise when they listen to B&S’s newest track, “The Party Line.”
This lead single off of their ninth studio album, Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance, is possibility B&S’s first track with a bonafide beat (though I could be wrong—I’m partial to their sad bastard music myself). Synths permeate the song, anchored by the pulsating bass, while singer Stuart Murdoch’s characteristic plaintive voice sounds a little strange in this new musical environment—not to say that that’s a bad thing. In some ways, “The Party Line” is a little reminiscent of “Electronic Renaissance” from B&S’s first album, Tigermilk, so perhaps it’s not so much of a departure after all. Nonetheless, fans of the classic B&S sound shouldn’t be too worried—if the album trailer is any indication, there’ll be plenty of their typical orchestral pop on the record as well. And its producer, Ben H. Allen, has also worked on such great albums as Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavillion and Deerhunter’s Halcyon Digest. So there’s plenty of reasons to be excited for this upcoming album, not the least of which is the fact that B&S is one of the most consistently excellent pop groups out there, in my humble opinion.
Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance comes out on January 20th, and you can pre-order it now on iTunes or Amazon and get “The Party Line” as well. Alternatively, you can pre-order it at Matador Records, where you can also get the nice-looking deluxe box set (it even comes with a set of pins!).