The title of Belle and Sebastian’s tenth studio album was inspired by the Buddhist precept of reincarnation, a notion that we’ve all lived differently in an infinite number of times before. Band leader Stuart Murdoch thinks if humans sought more comfort in the idea it would fundamentally alter our shared outlook: “If we truly had that in our minds and in our hearts, we would drop the prejudice we had: our attitude to strangers and difficult people would alter emphatically.”
Ironically the process of creating A Bit of Previous marked if not a reinvention then the rediscovery of some old tricks as, unable to record in California due to the pandemic, they stayed in Glasgow and converted their rehearsal space into a makeshift studio. This was the first time in 20 years they’d recorded at home; self producing without the pressure of time, the result is one of their most lovable records in a long and idiosyncratic career.
One of it’s strengths are the effortless changes in mood, tempo and style, from the lilting fiddle and regret of opener Young and Stupid, to If They’re Shooting At You’s froth and the mellow Clydeside jazz of Come On Home. Excelling in it’s ballads and otherwise familiarly great in all the aspects long term fans would expect, A Bit of Previous also peaks where perhaps they might not, the wailing Unnecessary Drama and Prophets On Hold equally life affirming in different ways. It doesn’t matter what bodies they’re in, Belle And Sebastian are still giving hope and solace out to whoever wants it.
You can read a full review here.