words by Jacqui Wonder

Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance, as abstract as album titles come, perfectly sums up the lightness and charm of Belle & Sebastian‘s ninth studio album, released today. The sixties influence is impossible to ignore – there’s something delightfully Carole King meets Peter & Gordon about the duo, that is simultaneously offbeat and modern with gliding electro, cameos of squelchy synth and sumptuous basslines.

By track three, ‘The Party Line’, I’m smitten – there’s a romantic, carefree whimsy-ness to the album, and this fun tune is a perfect example of Belle & Sebastian‘s unique brand of pop music that is at home in this decade as much as it would have been fifty years ago.

There are waxy elements that are almost laid on too thick, as in the ABBA-esque disco opening to ‘Enter Sylvia Plath’ or the strings coming through repetitively in ‘The Power of Three’, but the duo’s song composition really nails it and guitar hooks, key changes or new vocals always come at the exact right moment.

What I’m most excited about is how this diverse and fun album is going to play in a live setting, with the modern tango ‘The Everlasting Muse’ (my pick of the album), ironic ballads like ‘The Cat with the Cream’ and catchy disco-inspired tracks like ‘Play for Today’. Do what you can to catch the Brits when they storm Auckland at St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival this weekend, as well as a small string of shows across Australia in January/February.

Rating: ★★★☆

Australian Tour Dates:
Jan 28 – The Tivoli, Brisbane
Jan 29 – Enmore Theatre, Sydney
Feb 1 – Palais Theatre, Melbourne
Feb 3 – Astor Theatre, Perth
RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/belleandsebastian/app_123966167614127

Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance is available now through Matador Records.