Glasgow indie darlings Belle and Sebastian’s star has steadily risen from humble yet precocious beginnings. Their cult debut album ‘Tigermilk’ was devised as a school project in 1996, but it was follow up ‘If You’re Feeling Sinister’ that brought them to mainstream attention with their heartfelt and quirky lyrics appealing to lonely teenagers and music completists alike.
‘If You’re Feeling Sinister’ was named by ‘Spin’ as one of the 100 greatest albums between 1985 and 2005, and is widely considered the band’s masterpiece. Just before the recording of ‘Sinister’, Sarah Martin (violin/vocals) joined the band. Following this a series of EPs were released in 1997. The first of these was ‘Dog on Wheels’, which contained four demo tracks recorded before the real formation of the band. In fact, the only long-term band members to play on the songs were Murdoch, David, and Mick Cooke, who played trumpet on the EP but would not officially join the band until a few years later. It charted at No. 59 in the UK singles chart.
‘The Lazy Line Painter Jane’ EP followed in July. The track was recorded in the church where Murdoch lived and features vocals from Monica Queen. The EP narrowly missed out on the UK top 40, peaking at No. 41. The last of the 1997 EPs was October’s ‘3.. 6.. 9 Seconds of Light’. The EP was made Single of the Week in both the NME and Melody Maker and reached No. 32 in the charts, thus becoming the band’s first top 40 single.
Belle and Sebastian are an exciting and accomplished live act, and with a huge back catalogue of songs including hits ‘The Boy with the Arab Strap’ and ‘I’m A Cuckoo’ that sit comfortably next to obscure b-sides and special releases.
In 2019, Belle and Sebastian revisited a handful of old songs as part of their soundtrack for the coming of age comedy ‘Days of the Bagnold Summer’.