Whatever you think of Belle and Sebastian, it's hard to disagree with the fact that the Scottish combo is not only remarkably consistent, but it's managed to evolve without cringe-inducing growing pains. B&S have pretty much shed their unbearably twee image, for instance, and without resorting to drastic measures, like recording with Max Martin or hiring stunt guests; instead, Stuart Murdoch and his gang have grown organically, each album building upon the previous one. The band even survived the 2003 departure of Isobel Campbell, whose cello-playing and mellifluous vocals were long thought to be an essential part of the B&S sound.
This album, the follow-up to 2003's Dear Catastrophe Waitress and second without Campbell, has an undeniably jaunty bounce, but B&S are hardly dance floor kings — it's the arrangements rather than the beats that sneak in sly funky/soul touches. "Sukie in the Graveyard" is buoyed by a bopping organ and subtle horns, for instance, while the clavinet intro to "Song for Sunshine" nods toward classic Stevie Wonder, before the song takes a turn into Sly and the Family Stone territory. But the overall mood is that of a paen to late-'60s/early-'70s sunshine pop ("We Are the Sleepyheads," "White Collar Boy" and its shuffling, delicately glammy Backbeat, "The Blues Are Still Blue" and its little "96 Tears"-like organ coda).
So yes, it's yet another B&S album, but it's also yet another good B&S album. Any complaints?