Belle and Sebastian, 'The BBC Sessions' (Matador)

7
The BBC Sessions
Critical Mass
Label: Matador

by Barry Walters

These British radio recordings document the Scottish chamber-pop group's beginnings with cellist/vocalist Isobel Campbell, who makes a final appearance on four 2001 exclusives that capture the septet tangled up in twee, soon-to-be-trimmed tangents. But the initial 1996 sessions emphasize the droll felicity of essential early songs "The State I Am In" and "The Stars of Track and Field," tightening the comedic timing and ramping up the tension, making their adolescent trauma both funnier and scarier.

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