Belle and Sebastian are very similar to Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings to me. Both have never released a bad song; both have sounds that seem to come from a different era, even though the songs are so good that you know that it’d be impossible to keep it from being part of a “classic” pantheon if they were from a different time; both seem immensely popular and influential, yet both likely don’t sell that many records, nor do they play huge venues when touring. To call either of these bands underrated would be silly, but Belle and Sebastian is so good and so consistent that it is truly amazing that their appeal is still somewhat limited.
At any rate, B&S released three new LPs this decade and after the first one, Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant, from 2000, people seemed worried that they were on the decline. In 2003 they came out with Dear Catastrophe Waitress and put those fears to bed. They began rocking like they had never before, busting out of the bookish folkie Glasgow sound that made them so popular and taking on different Thin Lizzy-style exploits, like “I’m a Cuckoo”. The new sound was then expanded even more on probably the best album they’ve ever done, 2006’s The Life Pursuit, which had all of their great trademark songwriting, melodies and lyrics, but made it feel like this band could go in a million different directions in the future. If you’re reading this, you know B&S; if you don’t, listen to “I’m a Cuckoo” and see for yourself.