http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/e2281139db61aaeab8f68caddae48165ed996e37.jpg If You're Feeling Sinister

Belle and Sebastian

If You're Feeling Sinister

Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 3.5 0
June 24, 1997

Belle and Sebastian are a seven-member ensemble from Glasgow, Scotland, that create elaborate yarns backed by equally elaborate arrangements. If You're Feeling Sinister, their lush, strings-and-piano-driven second album, stands in stark contrast to much contemporary pop for a couple of reasons: Not only is it unabashedly gentle, but the album is completely narrative driven. All the songs have the smooth flow of good storytelling; even the liner notes on band members are literary. One album-sleeve credit reads: "Isobel's thinking of giving up her college. But Isobel, who's going to support us when our dreams crash against the rocks?" We're never told what Isobel does in the group. But what can you expect from a band whose publicity photo pictures an unidentified woman who is not a band member, wearing a surgical mask?

The septet never sounds impressed with its own smarts, but Belle and Sebastian (the name comes from a 1970s French TV show about a boy and his dog) do occasionally get mired in their own sensitivity. On "The Boy Done Wrong Again," singer Stuart Murdoch is at his most plaintive and gets dangerously close to being whiny; it's hard to resist lines such as "All I wanted was to sing the saddest songs/If somebody sings along, I will be happy now," but it's even harder to believe that anything could make Murdoch truly happy at that point. Still, it's tough to find fault with a band that opts for shy resolution over self-promotion and, in so doing, reaches peaks of effortless pastoral grandeur.

Album Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories


    The Commodores | 1984

    The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

    More Song Stories entries »