It’s not uncommon in 2019 to see emblematic ‘90s bands out on tour — aging alternative pop stars still have bills to pay, after all. But while so many of their contemporaries have devolved into nostalgia acts, Scotland’s Belle & Sebastian have continuously evolved, released new music and, against the odds, stayed young.
The darlingest of the ‘90s indie rock darlings, Belle & Sebastian were quietly unleashed upon the world in 1996. Their first two albums Tigermilk and If You’re Feeling Sinister and the (relatively) smash third album The Boy With the Arab Strap were centred around bandleader Stuart Murdoch’s introspective and sublimely detailed storytelling and careful myth-building about the band — for years they didn’t tour or do interviews and few people even knew what band members looked like.
While for some those early albums still represent Belle & Sebastian’s legacy, over the last 20 years they’ve grown out of that perceived preciousness into a tight but raucous crew of performers, more likely to make their audiences dance than weep tender wistful tears. With their most recent album How to Solve Our Human Problems (technically a collection of three EPs), Murdoch and the other principal songwriter Stevie Jackson dabble in everything from ‘60s Motown-inspired grooves to ‘70s-esque boogie rock, all marked by a chorus of voices and B&S’s signature mix of guitar, keyboards, strings and the odd line of flute. As this is the band’s first Alberta appearance, ‘90s nostalgia will certainly be on deck, but expect the band to emit an overwhelming sense of joy and good humour, strong enough to propel us well into the future.
Biography by Elizabeth Chorney Booth