Gary Flockhart: B&S let their inner dance come out

BELLE AND SEBASTIAN: GIRLS IN PEACETIME WANT TO DANCE.Pic: PA

BELLE AND SEBASTIAN: GIRLS IN PEACETIME WANT TO DANCE.Pic: PA

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SOME bands you just love the first time you hear them – others grow on you with time.

It’s the latter category where I’d place Scotland’s Belle & Sebastian, who, despite being consistently lauded by the critics since they formed in 1996, had more often than not left me feeling a bit ‘meh’ whenever I listened to them.

Even all these years later, I’m still scratching my head over them being voted ‘The Best Scottish Band Of All Time’ in a poll by readers of The List magazine in 2005, beating, among others, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Simple Minds, The Jesus And Mary Chain and Orange Juice.

That said, although I was surprised to see them winning, the inclusion of bedwetters Travis in second spot and the just-plain-awful Dogs Die In Hot Cars at No.45 completely destroyed the credibility of the whole thing for me.

As far as Belle & Sebastian go, however, change came in small doses over the years. And while I’ve never become the wild-eyed super fan, I now enjoy a bit of B&S of a lazy Sunday morning.

This is a long-winded way of saying the one-time Mercury Prize nominees have a new album out and, like the band, it’s a bit of a grower.

Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance is the Glasgow indie stalwarts’ ninth long-player – and, unexpectedly, their most dance-y.

“We all like dance music,” said frontman Stuart Murdoch in a recent interview. “But we’ve probably been seriously incapable of expressing that before now. Now we’re just really relaxed – you just have to let your inner dance come out.”

But while tracks like Enter Sylvia Plath and Perfect Couples are synth-driven numbers, longtime fans will be pleased to know they’ve not gone full Calvin Harris, and the wry bookish humour they’re famous for is present and correct.

Truth told, it’s not their finest album – but B&S’s excursion into modern pop is still a journey well worth taking.