Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Belle & Sebastian - Write About Love

Belle and Sebastian - Write About Love (****)
album review for the skinny

If the near-five year wait since The Life Pursuit and last year’s brilliant brace of albums from Camera Obscura and Butcher Boy led you to question Belle & Sebastian’s standing as indie-pop kings of Glasgow, wait until you hear Write About Love.

While arguably not as consistent as either of those disciples’ recent triumphs, there are parts of Belle & Seb’s eighth studio album as great as anything they’ve done before: When the light and lilting I Didn’t See It Coming is resurrected, after dissolving into space, by the late arrival of starry synths and Stuart pleading “make me dance, I want to surrender!”; when a fragile, metallic shimmer subtly emerges from Come On Sister, and ecstatic male backing vocals less subtly burst from it later; pretty much the entirety of Northern Soul stomper I Want The World To Stop, and the surreally hilarious I’m Not Living In The Real World, a coming-of-age caper inspired by early The Who and Beach Boys.

But perhaps the best moment of all is the final line of closer Sunday's Pretty Icons: a simple, undramatic remark of devastating kindness that’ll leave you choking over the glistening organ outro. Wonderful.

This song really reminded me of Frankie Valli's The Night, even before it got to the "the night, the night!" bit. So, for comparison's sake (and because this is an amazing song that you should listen to right now anyway):

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Andrew O'Neill @ The Tron

Andrew O'Neill (***)

comedy review for the list

If Andrew O'Neill's poster description "occult comedian" suggests an evening of witty witchcraft, that's not what he's serving at this year's Fringe. He's a metalhead, and wears all black clothing (and owns a black beach towel), but he's a long way from turning any unfortunate front-row volunteer into a newt.

He's actually very normal, towel tastes aside. In mocking religion, racism and homophobia he wrings laughs out of well-worn and worthy comedic subjects, and a long story about his first ever fight provides an impressive variety of angles. Metal music and culture is another deep well for comedy, one which O'Neill could probably explore further.

Unfortunately almost all of O'Neill's short scripted skits fall flat, both punctuating and puncturing his set. Surely every good David Dickinson joke has long ago been told, so there's not much to gain from two more attempts; and providing a melodramatic power ballad with a mundane answer is a schoolboy's game.