You would think a full-time gig like Belle & Sebastian — with its hefty touring regiment and consistent recording sessions — would be enough work for singer-songwriter Stuart Murdoch. Yet, for the past five years, Murdoch has been working on a soundtrack for a nonexistent film God Help the Girl. The culmination of those efforts is a cheeky yet stunning album featuring nine female vocalists and a 45-piece orchestra. And while it would be easy to compare this record to the chamber-pop of Murdoch's full-time gig, God Help the Girl plays out more like a sweeping Broadway classic. This may not be Murdoch's area of expertise but songs like "God Help the Girl," "Hiding Neath My Umbrella" and "I'll Have to Dance With Cassie" show that the musician has a serious knack for the theatrical. Murdoch is already known for vivid storytelling and multi-instrumentation, but here he rises to an even higher level. — Matt Whelihan
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