God help The Girl - God Help The Girl Album Review
Glorious pop. Hooray !
Albums like God Help The Girl don't come along very often, so grab it.
This 'project', which has been going on for some five years, has been a complex business. Firstly, Belle and Sebastian's Stuart Murdoch needed a singer, so, as you do, you run a competition to find one, or more, online, and ads in papers and shops.
The result of this 'musical story' is quite stunning in as much it's what pop music has been missing for about a generation, or even two come to that. It seems to pick up the bits (and fill the gaps) of the halcyon days of pop in the sixties, that the 70s, 8os and 90s missed out on.
Murdoch eventually settled for nine different singers, all young ladies with potential glittering careers ahead of them, like Catherine Ireton in particular.
Also on board is The Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon who knows a thing or two about classy pop tunes, a 45 piece orchestra - conducted by Rick Wentworth (Withnail & I fame) along with other Belle and Sebastian members.
Apart from the 60s Doris Day feel in places, this sumptuous album could fit nicely alongside your Tamla Motown, Beautiful South, Mamas and Papas and chamber-pop heroes Antony and The Johnsons, collections. Comparisons with the latter style can be heard on the string heavy Pretty Eve In The Tub.
Thrown into the mix is an all too short - just over a minute - jaunty instrumental A Unified Theory which Dave Brubeck fans will identify with.
The hippified ballad Hiding Neath My Umbrella , and a gorgeous one it is too, with swirling strings and ivory tinklings by Stevie Jackson, features the combined singing talents of Stuart Murdoch, Catherine Ireton and Celia Garcia, making it one of the stand out tracks here. Thing is, they're all so good.
This is followed by an exquisite cover of B&S's single Funny Little Frog, from 2006. Brittany Stallings' vocals are amazing.
Murdoch couldn't have chosen a better muse in Hannon who leads Perfect As A Hipster. The melody and girl harmonies by Ireton, Garcia and Alex Klobouk are reminiscent of the trick deployed by Wall-Of-Sound exponent Phil Spector.
Dipping into the West Coast sound, the honeyed Californian pop of I'll Have To Dance With Cassie draws heavily on the Mamas and Papas's universal appeal, with Ireton giving arguably her finest performance.
It's a tough call, honestly, choosing the best track because they're all well written and performed, but I'm compelled to say it's the John Barry-esque Come Monday Night that wins, hands down.
The verdict - Ab Fab.