Album review: Belle and Sebastian

Belle and Sebastian - How To Solve Our Human Problems (Matador)

Belle and Sebastian.

Belle and Sebastian.

THE THREE EPs, released under the How To Solve Our Human Problems title, have now been grouped into one release, and together merge and flow seamlessly as an album.

That this was always the plan may account for the sense of unity and focus heard here, but like the long running Scottish band's more recent works - Write About Love (2010 ) and Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance (2015 ) - it is a case of another solid album, with some fine songs, but a lot pedestrian tracks, and overall the band sounding ever more streamlined, and less quirky.

So it's no Dear Catastrophe Waitress or If You're Feeling Sinister then, yet, despite its flaws (the OTT synth horror 'Cornflakes should never have been let see the light of day ), it does grow on you. 'The Girl Doesn't Get It' addresses contemporary socio-political concerns, from the effects of internet consumption to racism and Brexit; 'A Plague On Other Boys' is vintage B&S; I'll Be Your Pilot' is elevated by a sublime melody for the oboe, the song's lead instrument - and perhaps the album's best song; while the disco/lite-funk of 'Poor Boy' boasts the witty line: "I was too much for your imagination. Poor boy, I was a crush who killed."

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