Belle & Sebastian sound as good as ever on ‘Girls in Peacetime Want to Party’

B&SBelle & Sebastian
“Girls in Peacetime Want to Party” (Matador)
4 stars out of 5

If you caught Belle & Sebastian’s show in summer of 2013 at Stage AE, you saw one of the best concerts of that whole calendar year. And it turned out they were gearing up to make their first record in five years, the wonderfully all-over-the-map “Girls in Peacetime Want to Party.”

B&S CDSinger Stuart Murdoch is in fine form and is a charismatic as ever, while the rest of the band backs him up brilliantly, taking the music to new places. There are killer doses of their signature indie pop on cuts such as gripping “Nobody’s Empire” that tackles Murdoch’s health issues before the band started; bouncy “Allie,” with its chorus that sticks in your head; and great ballad “Ever Had a Little” that’s one of the highlights of the album. But there are great curveballs in utterly infectious “The Party Line” and “Enter Sylvia Plath” that sound like they could make Erasure jealous, as well as tremendous “Perfect Couples,” which benefits from some Clash-style reggae. This band sounds as great as ever. (Brian Krasman)

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