[3] Belle & Sebastian, ‘Nobody’s Empire’


“How can this be so high when there have been so many great songs?” Junior isn’t happy. “It’s not as exciting. He doesn’t sound happy.”

Which says something about her criteria when judging pop songs, and pretty solid criteria they are too. Of course, Stuart Murdoch isn’t very happy, at least not to begin with, because ‘Nobody’s Empire’ tackles the ME that debilitated him in the 1990s and still rears up occasionally. But, with his favourite layering effects that lifted ‘The State I Am In’, ‘The Boy With The Arab Strap’ and ‘I’m A Cuckoo’ to the heavens, Murdoch eventually elevates this to something approaching ecstasy. A note of hope, certainly.

[13] Belle And Sebastian, ‘I’m A Cuckoo’


Did Trevor Horn ruin Belle And Sebastian? Did Russell T. Davies ruin Doctor Who? Did Tony Blair ruin Labour? Nah, they just buffed them up until you could shave in them. Dear Catastrophe Waitress represented a sonic step forward – or sideways, however you look at it – but B&S were never exactly scuzzy and never lost their lighter touch. There’s not much lightness of touch on ‘I’m A Cuckoo’, unless you take it for a wimpier spin on Thin Lizzy; there are guitar pyrotechnics (well, they spark a little) and it soars up to a triumphant final verse, riding shotgun with the Sunday gang in Harajuku.

Junior bops, and actually likes it. I’ve suspicions that the chocolate cornflake cake she was munching did more to hep up her mood, but Belle And Sebastian never did anyone any harm.

Tune in on Monday for the second part of our Harajuku double-header.

There’s something wrong with me: