Tigermilk

Most Belle and Sebastian cultists would pick 1997's If You're Feeling Sinister as the enigmatic, literary Scottish swish rockers' finest moment. Others insist the band has gotten even better since, as evidenced by the cheery fluff and girlie vocals of 1998's The Boy With the Arab Strap. Both factions could probably use a chocolate malted and a kind word now and then, but the odds are better that this reissue of the band's wicked-rare 1995 debut, Tigermilk, will be the only nice thing to happen to any Belle and Sebastian fan all summer. Tigermilk offers a rough sketch of the band's virtues: acoustic guitars, zippy melodies, strings, horns and the sullen schoolboy wit of Stuart Murdoch, who torments his nanny with a breathy voice that evokes Al Stewart of "Year of the Cat" fame after a proper clawing from Morrissey. Tigermilk will never be anyone's favorite, but it's prime Belle and Sebastian — the beautiful music of shut-in roues stung by the pangs of youth and taking it out on us.

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