In a 26-part history, Belle and Sebastian are only the second act to add a volume 2 to their Late Night Tales mix, and as before, they’ve cultivated something with appeal that far extends their core fan-base. With five of the gang contributing, the results are eclectic to say the least, and while an effort has been made to sequence coherently, some delightfully incongruous transitions remain (the segueing of Ce’cile’s strutting dancehall into Remember Remember’s delicately beautiful Scottish Widows is one such volte-face).
The genre-switching continues with their contractual cover version, in which the band play the tracklisting’s sole salute to the indie-pop realm from whence they came (The Primitives’ Crash) with a bossa nova swing, slotting in smoothly between a soulful Lovin’ Spoonful cut and Roland Vincent’s swinging LSD Partie. It might seem premature, but go on Late Night Tales, gie them a third crack; they’re rather good at this.
Team Me - To the Treetops! (****)
Oslo’s Team Me are overblown, over-excitable and, with the release of debut To the Treetops!, soon-to-be over here. The warmth of your welcome will vary according to the degree to which you find giddily-joyous symphonic pop delectable or detestable: the former camp should start pinning up the bunting post haste, the latter are advised to keep a wide berth. Handclaps and group-chanted choruses abound, threaded through dizzying layers of bells, strings, keys and other musical miscellany.
Their songs are often gratifyingly complex, but rarely sound it on first encounter, with seven minute opener Riding My Bicycle (from Ragnvalsbekken to Sorkedalen) an instantly-arresting case in point. But when things are boiled down to simpler structures and shorter durations, the results are no less impressive: the delightfully unsubtle Patrick Wolf & Daniel Johns bubbles over with candied energy, while tracks like Fool supply gratefully-received moments of calm. A potentially divisive, but supremely confident debut.
Father Murphy - Anyway Your Children Will Deny It (****)
Shivering breaths, an unbearably tense riff, a forceful death rattle: Father Murphy’s latest album opens with the Italian trio on typically austere form. Opener How We Ended up with Feelings of Guilt’s sonic sparseness only accentuates its creepiness, leaving plenty of pockets into which the listener can project drama; as it peters out on ritualistic drums, we’re aflame in the wicker man and it’s only track one.
There’s impressive diversity to what follows: It Is Funny, It Is Restful, Both Came Quickly’s punishing industrial din amplifies the nightmare, whereas closer Don’t Let Yourself Be Hurt This Time is almost lullaby-like (baby-waking clatter aside). At the dark heart of the record is In Praise of Our Doubts, its epic torment – wails, chants, Satan’s own orchestra – somehow skirting round pomposity. That such regular flecks of humour do little to dampen the sinister presiding atmosphere remains Father Murphy’s most potent spell.