Belle & Sebastian – Push Barman to Open Old Wounds

Once again, Belle & Sebastian fascinate their fans with an intriguing title. The question really, is where have the friends gone? Since their last album Dear Catastrophe Waitress, Belle & Sebastian fans have been waiting furiously for some signs of new music. Instead, Stuart Murdoch and the rest of his band from Scotland release Push Barman to Open Old Wounds. What better way to call back diminishing fans by making a dual disc of all their b-sides? In their latest collaboration, they re-explore the hidden treasures; unless you’re from Glasgow or a crazed fan, you would probably think the whole album is a set of new creations. Unfortunately, frequent Belle & Sebastian website checkers know better than that. It’s another album to finally add amongst the dust-harboring If You’re Feeling Sinister and Boy With An Arab Strap. 

This two disc album intrigues the mind with two senses: it is important to listen to all those tracks that no casual listener would have heard of like “Beautiful” or “Judy is a Dick Slap.” Aesthetically, the album portrays some strange song names like “Take Your Carriage Clock and Shove It,” or “I Love My Car” to even “Belle and Sebastian.” This album does not only complete a colorful rainbow of monotone colors schemes for their patterned cover photos, but it pleases the ear with fascinating stories of love loss, beauty in simplicity, and of course the occasional song about a “Dog On Wheels.”

To take a closer look at one of their songs, we examine “Le Pastie de la Bourgeoisie.” It is the tenth song on the first album and a strange tune to boot. This song reverts the mind to a simpler time, a more “beach” time for lack of a better word. With a quick synthesized start, the song goes straight into a more Beach Boys-like setting. Of course, there are no harmonized tunes or simple lyrics; the song represents the freedom of a person. Hitting the soul with a stanza like “Wouldn’t you like to get away / Give yourself up to the allure of Catcher in the Rye / The future swathed in Stars and Stripes / Wouldn’t you like to get away / Kerouac’s beckoning with open arms / And open roads of eucalyptus / Westward bound,” to reveal the beatnik in lead singer and songwriter, Stuart Murdoch and his dream to be free.  To follow, the album enters into sweetly acoustic “Beautiful.”

A final note to mention is the song “I’m Waking Up to Us” on the second disc. The name is very deceiving; making the song sound as a ballad to someone Murdoch loves, but it is quite the opposite. As the song slowly enters in, the first line echoes “I need someone who takes some joy in something I do / you need a man whose either rich or losing a screw.” The song then turns to an angry rock song about how the narrator is screwed over by the one he loves. Talk about false advertising, not only does the song have a deceiving name, but the music is deceiving as well. By using high portions of trumpet to compliment the straining strings in the background, “I’m Waking Up to Us” constitutes time to rethink about what Murdoch is writing before starting trouble with his ex. What more can a fan ask for than a song where Murdoch loses the strength in his voice to crack a note or two- sounds like he needs to start going to therapy for that broken heart.

(Matador Records)