Monday, September 02, 2013

Belle & Sebastian: "The Third Eye Centre" (album review)

B-side albums are a dangerous affair.  You know going in that the ratio of wheat to chaff is going to be pretty low.  Even if you're an enormous fan of a band, the simple fact is that there is a good reason the song didn't make the cut for the real album.

Enter Scottish twee darlings Belle & Sebastian and their new b-sides collection The Third Eye Centre.

The songs on the compilation are decent, for the most part.  There are very few tracks that are truly bad (the dull "I Took a Long Hard Look" and "Long Black Scarf" being notable exception).  Instead, most of the songs hit the cutting room floor because they simply are as strong as the band's normal output.

That said, there isn't a lot that's going to shock you on The Third Eye Centre.  Tracks like "Suicide Girl" and "Your Secrets" are melodic pop numbers with hooks aplenty that will get your toes tapping.

A handful of moments do provide you with things we don't often hear from Belle & Sebastian.  A lazy ska beat hangs below the surface on "The Eighth Station of the Cross Kebab House".  The head-bopping "Last Trip" also serves up a small dose of twang.  "Mr. Richard" brings in some New Wave influence.

Remixes comprise a small number of the album's tracks.  They are of varying quality.  Avalanches add a World music flair to the end of "I'm a Cuckoo".  Miaoux Miaoux takes ""Your Cover's Blown" in a disco direction.  The outstanding "I Didn't See It Coming" is turned into an '80s-inspired techno pop number by Richard X.

By no means is The Third Eye Centre an adequate substitute of a new Belle & Sebastian record.  It is, however, a nice stop-gap measure that should tide fans over until an album of new material can be had.

Best tracks: "Stop, Look and Listen", "Last Trip"

Track listing for The Third Eye Centre:
  • I'm a Cuckoo (Avalanches Remix)
  • Suicide Girl
  • Love On the March
  • Last Trip
  • Your Secrets
  • Your Cover's Blown (Miaoux Miaoux Remix)
  • I Took a Long Hard Look
  • Heaven In the Afternoon
  • Long Black Scarf
  • The Eighth Station of the Cross Kebab House
  • I Didn't See It Coming (Richard X Remix)
  • (I Believe In) Travellin' Light
  • Stop, Look and Listen
  • Passion Fruit
  • Desperation Made a Fool of Me
  • Blue Eyes of a Millionaire
  • Mr Richard
  • Meat and Potatoes
  • The Life Pursuit

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