Of Peculiarities and Dark Romance 

Music

Album: The Third Eye Centre

Artist: Belle and Sebastian

Production: Matador Records

Price: Rs 1,619

Rating: ***1/2

Unlike the path to obsolescence that many bands from the '90s eventually take, nobody grows out of Belle and Sebastian. Some of the credit goes to the Glaswegian band's all-pervasive presence in popular culture — with appearances in films such as High Fidelity and TV shows such as Gilmore Girls or How I Met Your Mother. But most of its timelessness lies in its songbook and references to popular culture. Picture Like Dylan in the movies (If You're Feeling Sinister, 1996), which is a lyrical imagery of Bob Dylan in his '67 movie Don't Look Back, or bringing back Gustave Courbet's famous painting of a mangled fox in Fox in the Snow in their number of the same name. Theirs is the music of acidic realities juxtaposed with soothing shades of pastoral blues, soft rock and Simon and Garfunkel-esque antiquities. 

Known for their quick succession of LPs and EPs, which they treat as seriously as a regular album, Belle and Sebastian's latest, The Third Eye Centre, is a co-mpilation of B-sides and rarities from 2002 onwards. And it's much like a tiny old shop full of queer oddities. 

Their classic sounds come from sun-dappled soft rock, reminiscent of the good ol' The Bee Gees, Cliff Richards or Simon and Garfunkel. And so we find solace in Love on the march, a warm, bluesy, The girl from Ipanema-like instant classic, and Your secrets, a happy-go-lucky hit that takes you back to Belle and Sebastian of the '90s. Even (I believe in) Travellin' Light has a lot of déjà vu going, yet the dreamy vocals of Stuart Murdoch against the country-pop pace makes it rather bittersweet. On the other hand, Meat and potato is complete with haulting piano notes against Murdoch's uninhibited I like my coffee black, old TV shows/My women hot and my beer ice cold, making for an unusually delightful love song. 

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