January 17th, 2013 12:48pm

You Go All The Way To Being Brutal

Belle & Sebastian “Lazy Line Painter Jane”

The characters in Stuart Murdoch’s songs are very vivid and interesting, but also sort of pointedly mundane and down to earth. The protagonist of “Lazy Line Painter Jane” is playing at being a sort of sexy antihero, but it isn’t quite working because it’s just too obvious that her promiscuity is more to do with loneliness than a libertine spirit, and her caustic sense of humor is just a way of distancing herself from other people. It wouldn’t take much for this song to seem judgmental, but it’s actually quite warm, and it’s clear that Murdoch has a genuine affection and respect for this woman. She’s the kind of person that you know is kind of a mess, but you’re rooting for them.

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Belle & Sebastian “Song for Sunshine”

“Song for Sunshine” is by some distance the best song in the Belle & Sebastian song that was not penned by Stuart Murdoch, though I should say that Stevie Jackson has written other fine songs, like “Chickfactor” and “The Wrong Girl.” Stevie has a good ear for melody, but he’s only a modest singer, which hobbles his material somewhat. “Song for Sunshine” works in large part because it takes advantage of the full vocal force of the band, and lets Murdoch carry much of the harmony without having him take a lead. The song is a 70s funk pastiche in the vein of Parliament/Funkadelic and Stevie Wonder, but it’s not about an ass-shaking sort of funk. This is more a post-hippie gospel funk – generous with melody and harmony, and with an incredibly kind-hearted lyrical message about accepting one’s blessings in life.

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