Belle And Sebastian – Days of the Bagnold Summer review

by Philip Moss

Stuart Murdoch’s songwriting has always been cinematic – but alongside the Spector-esque girl group wonder of his God Help the Girl project, and the rich imagery of tunes such as Step Into My Office, Baby, and Dylan In The Movies, there was also the flop indie soundtrack, Storytelling. So which side of the fence does new album, Days of the Bagnold Summer – which accompanies the Simon Bird directed movie of the same name – fall on?

Simply, it’s great – and features some of the band’s most vital songwriting in almost a decade. I’ll Keep It Inside is classic B&S, with Murdoch’s keen eye for kitchen sink style lyrics on show. He’s always had a knack for observing the drudgery of life, and capturing it quite like no other, and ‘inhale your first cigarette… get the sun round your pigeon legs; it’s pissin’ rain – we’re in the old bus shelter…’ is further proof, not that we needed it. But the undoubted star of this collection is Safety Valve – a beautifully melodically number that positions its narrator in need of emotional support, as has been the case in so many of Murdoch’s best work through his two and a half decade career.

Elsewhere, the Sarah Martin sung Another Day, Another Night flashes by in just over a minute, but is her best song since 2010’s I Didn’t See It Coming. While the two re-recordings included come with mixed outcomes – opener proper, I Know Where The Summer Goes – lifted from 1998’s This Is Just A Modern Rock Song EP feels re-energised, but – unfortunately – Get Me Away From Here I’m Dying, despite being one of the best songs in the Murdoch canon, comes nowhere close to its original guise.

But this is a record with far more plusses than fails, and it is a great return for the Glasgow based group. Following too many years in the wishy washy world of synth-pop, Scotland – once more – is definitely for me!

Secret Meeting score: 79


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