Belle of the ball

Belle of the ball
Belle and Sebastian comprise (from left) Stevie Jackson, Richard Colburn, Chris Geddes, Sarah Martin, Stuart Murdoch and Bobby Kildea.

Scottish outfit Belle and Sebastian do not have a No. 1 album or single to their name and their releases barely crack the Top 10 on the British charts.

Yet the sextet stand head and shoulders above their contemporaries of the mid 1990s in terms of influence and lasting appeal.

Their penchant for strong pop melodies, whimsical and playful lyrics as well as blend of 1960s pop and folk can be heard in the songs of many indie acts that came after them, including The Pains of Being Pure At Heart, Architecture in Helsinki, Camera Obscura and Jens Lekman.

And for music fans who eschew rock 'n' roll brashness for sensitive and cerebral pop, their output since the 1990s is essential listening.

Rather than bask in the acclaim for their back catalogue, Belle and Sebastian remain contemporary by consistently putting out new material.

The band, who will be performing in Singapore at The Gathering on Saturday, recently released their ninth album, Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance.

It has been getting glowing reviews. The Guardian labelled it a "dexterous and witty" album, with lyrics written with "elegantly wry wit". Q Magazine hailed it as a work from a "pop group with depth of talent and breadth of vision".

Contrary to their reputation as a tweepop outfit, several of the songs are actually funky enough to make one get up and dance.

In a telephone interview from Scotland, bass player Bobby Kildea tells Life!: "In terms of writing the songs, we didn't set out to make a dance record.

It's slightly different from maybe what people were expecting our next move to be, but it wasn't so calculated that we went, 'This is going to be a dance song.'

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