Write About Love (Matador)

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Belle and Sebastian's eighth album doesn't immediately grab you the way so many of their other records do. This really shouldn't come as a big surprise to fans who've watched the Glasgow group shift from bookish pop songs to more traditional rock settings over the years. Some of the songs on Write About Love find the band exploring some new sonic spaces: "I Want the World to Stop" nods to the Cure, "I'm Not Living in the Real World" sounds like something from the 1960s, and "Sunday's Pretty Icons" treads '70s soft-rock waters. Still, it all manages to reflect the band's earlier work. The palette may have changed and the colors are a bit more saturated, but the picture is strikingly familiar. Frontman Stuart Murdoch mines familiar themes here: treasuring the little things in life, the plight of unhappy lovers, even quasi-mythological discourses on the band itself. For Belle and Sebastian, the best way forward is to revisit the past. Nicholas Hall

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